I forgave my brothers killer and it changed my life
January 31, 2006 is a day that is etched in the history of my mind forever. It is the day that my brother's life was taken abruptly from him for reasons unknown to those who love him. I will never forget the call that has subsequently changed my life, it was 3:00am and I was living up North working in a remote camp with barely any cell service, so when my phone started ringing at that early hour I was quite confused as I answered. There is nothing that could have prepared me for the words that met me on the other end, it was my father calling me to say "Call your mother, your brother's been shot". I had no idea what he was talking about as I frantically tried to get through to my mother, hands shaking as I punched each number in hopes of reaching her. When I couldn't get mom on the phone I called my sister next and the first words out of her mouth dropped me to my knees "He's gone to a better place". I was so confused how did this happen? Why did this happen? Was this actually happening? Where was my mother?
After a few phone calls to other members of our family I was able to piece together what had happened and came to the quick realization that my brother was dead. To some degree this came as no surprise as he had led a very unsavoury life for many of his short years, he was in and out of jail and battled with addiction for as long as I could remember. Though he was troubled in his heart and his life, he was one of the most loyal, generous and loving people I have ever known. Due to his addictions and the people he was involved with, our family had often spoken about being surprised if he made it past 21. I think in hindsight we all knew he would be taken early but figured it would have been on his own accord.
For years this event cast a shadow of grief over our family, understandably my mother was distraught for years after and to some degree still is. I can remember having to check the back of my car every time I got into it at night because I was scared that someone was in the back seat waiting to shoot me. When I would be driving my car alone I was always thinking that other drivers were going to pull a gun on me if I cut them off.
The sadness that I witnessed my parents experiencing was so difficult as there was no words that could offer any real comfort. My brother left behind a young daughter when he passed, one that he was never quite able to get to know and parent like he would have wanted to. Our family dynamic changed, with each member grieving in their own way and not really understanding how the others were dealing with their pain. Where closeness should have developed and strengthened, we experienced separation, frustration, judgement and sorrow.
10 years has passed since that day and I realized that I was still experiencing so many confusing and consuming feelings surrounding his death because we never really had closure. His killer was never identified (though there have been many stories over the years, no one has ever been charged), his case is still an open investigation and his belongings are evidence. My mother every year goes to the police station and asks what they have been doing to find his killer, and every year is not satisfied with the answer. This experience, and the person responsible was still taking up so much of our space internally and I came to the realization after a conversation with my mom, that we had given him far more than he intended to take. We had been giving this person our happiness, our trust, our energy for years and years and that didn't make sense to me any longer. He had taken 10 years of our lives along with taking my brother, neither of which he deserved.
I made the decision this year that this year would be my year of forgiveness. In order to really LIVE the rest of my life I had to be free of the things that were weighing me down, and the anger I felt towards his killer was the heaviest energy I could think of. Deciding to forgive this person was incredibly difficult for me, as a part of me felt like I would be lessening his life, or my love/loyalty to him in doing so. After some serious talking to myself and asking guidance from my brother, the conclusion was clear. Forgiveness wasn't a weakness done out of disrespect, rather it was strength, love and courage triumphing.
Since offering forgiveness, I have experienced an enlightening and awakening of self that I have never experienced. I have been able to realize the power of our emotions and words, and how what we think, speak and feel impacts not only our selves but all of those in our energetic path. By releasing my emotional hold on this experience, I have been able to open myself up to more of the wonderful and incredible that life has to offer. When we are holding on so tightly to the poor experiences in our lives, we aren't allowing ourselves to attach to the opportunities all around us for growth, empowerment and self betterment. In paying respect to the departed and in honouring myself, it became to clear that forgiveness was the only option. Attack with love and you will drive out the hate. Hate in the hearts of our people is what causes situations like this to exist and to keep our global society in a saddened and disheartened state. When we are able to light the night with the warm glow of kindness, compassion, forgiveness and love, we light the way for others who are lost.
My brother was lost for many years, trapped in a life that wasn't meant for him but lacked the ability to ever fully disengage. His death was a new beginning for him, and for his family. He taught me during his time on earth that loyalty is favoured above all, the forgiveness and release of emotion towards his killer is allowing me to live the life I was meant for. By living my best life and not allowing someone else's actions to guide my emotions, is the best form of bravery and loyalty to the lessons he taught me in his life I can imagine.
To my brother, I thank you for the teachings you shared and the strength you instilled.