Ms. Smith woke like she had every morning with a prayer of thanks and her coffee maker whistling in the background as she slowly made her way to the bathroom to get herself in order.
As she stood before her mirror she begins to reflect- The Jury had been picked, the judge had read the charges and instructions. The trial was about to begin.
The prosecutors opening statements would rip one mother’s son apart by stating how he was this animal with no moral compass or regard for human life and how the family was responsible for his going to and fro through the community causing havoc and destruction and ultimately causing Kevin Smith to lose his life.
The defense would open by telling the jury, the murder or Kevin Smith wasn’t intentional but was a reckless boy with a firearm shooting back at the property owner who was shooting at him, defending his property.
That’s how Kevin was shot and killed; an accident caught in the crossfire.
It had been 19 years to the day since her son was killed in an exchange of crossfire. The killer would be free in about a year. Today was the anniversary of her son’s death and she would be meeting with her friend Mrs. Johnson.
As she sat at the table sipping her morning coffee, she again reflected upon the two week trial and how she and the killer’s mother Mrs. Johnson both sitting in the courtroom having lost the most precious thing in life, one son to never rise again and the other the possibility of a second opportunity.
It was the second day into trial when both women had arrive late and was force to sit together, there was no malice between the two, no discomfort, both filled with shame, both questioning themselves only because of how the media had portrayed them.
As the prosecutor rip into her son, Mrs. Johnson began to weep and in that moment the lives of these two women would change forever.
Mrs. Smith reach into her purse to give Mrs. Johnson her handkerchief to wipe away her tears and with her other hand she reach and grab her hand and in a whispering tone only she could hear, told her don’t worry everything was going to be okay and that God would see them both through.
In that moment a friendship of empathy, compassion and understanding was born from that second day Mrs. Smith held Mrs. Johnson’s hand. These two mothers would be inseparable.
It was a long day of trial first witness was done and recess was called Mrs. Smith asked Mrs. Johnson would she like to get a cup of coffee and talk Mrs. Johnson; I’d like that she replied.
They went to the coffee shop across the street as they sat and waited for their coffee to come Mrs. Johnson said “Thank You” Mrs. Smith for being my anchor in here today.
I want to say again to you in person that I am truly truly sorry for the lost and I want you to know Carl isn’t what’s been portrayed here today or in the media.
Mrs. Smith reach across the table and took Mrs. Johnson hands and said “I appreciate your apology, but it’s not needed you’ve done nothing wrong and as I said before He’ll see us both through.
I want you to know Mrs. Johnson the moment your son took my son’s life in that moment I had already forgiven him. She went on to say, see God’s love is the basis of forgiveness. It is His love in which is the reason you and I will make it through this storm in our life.
It’s nothing you did or didn’t do that causes the actions of your son. I don’t want you to become imprison by placing such guilt upon yourself, Okay?
Mrs. Johnson responded by nodding her head Yes! Mrs. Smith then said, we will make a pact today you and I each morning we will meet right here, pray together and have a cup before entering the court and whatever comes up we will face it together, Agreed?
She nodded okay and then Mrs. Johnson asks but what shall we pray? Mrs. Smith squeezed her hand and responded:
Thank You Father for helping me to teach my mind that I am not an ego and that it can be only I to crucify.
Thank You for understanding that it is impossible to be hurt except by my own thoughts and with that understanding it is but my gratitude I earn.
Thank You Father for the realization that my own condemnation injures me and only my own forgiveness sets me free.
You have shown me that there is no form of pain forgiveness cannot heal so, Thank You.
There Mrs. Smith sat at her table reminiscing and reflecting on how it all began. She realized she had traveled a many miles in her life since her and Mrs. Johnson had met over coffee and the death of her son, gave birth to a friendship to this day remains unbreakable.
Mrs. Smith was 40 when she lost her son Kevin and Mrs. Johnson only 27. She had Carl when she was 13, Mrs. Smith would learn in their many conversations conceive out of an act of molestation by a relative while visiting down south.
Her mother wouldn’t let her abort her child, so she raises him, being a child herself with the support and love of her mother. She was right Carl was not a bad child, got great grades in school, well manner but the peer pressure of living in the hood had challenged him in various ways. He started running with the wrong crowd, breaking into people’s homes.
It would be the gun taken from the last home he broke in that would kill Kevin Smith, who was simply walking home from school.
Mrs. Smith understood what it meant to be young mother; she was only 24 when she gave birth the father of her son murdered a year later, a victim of the senseless gang violence of Chicago.
Abandon by her family and his to raise a son on her own in an urban jungle that was never kind. It would be where she would learn about forgiveness and practice it in her life daily.
She would always be reminded of a quote a woman gave her at the human resource department when she first got her job as manager at the local community bank.
See the woman who hired her had read her pain, her anger so well and after the interview, she ask her if she could tell her something, she responded in kind and the woman told her I can see you have already in your young age weathered a many storms in the ocean of pain, hate and anger.
Remember this quote if you will, “without forgiveness life is so governed by…an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation” Robert Assagidi.
That woman saved her life that day as she begins to let go of her anger, her hatred and began to live for her and her son.
The woman invited her to her church and there she would befriend her and also begin to truly build a foundation of faith and that faith she would share with Mrs. Johnson and eventually her son each time she visited him.
But what touched her the most was after a year into Mrs. Johnson son conviction; Carl sought permission of his mother and Mrs. Smith to write her a letter.
Mrs. Smith had already forgiven Carl and his apology was on record before the court and jury and her acknowledgement of it and a solid commitment that she would be connected to him always.
His letter was sincere and heartfelt, and she would respond to him in kind and it would be few years before she and his mother would come to visit with him.
She remember it like it was yesterday, his mother entering the visiting room and him coming down the stairs, tears in both of their eyes and before Mrs. Johnson could finish hugging him Mrs. Smith has gather them both and in a circle Mrs. Smith begin to pray and give praise for their gathering.
Thank you Father for this day for this is the day that you have ordain for us all, to be strengthen by to let Carl know that He is forgiven not just by us, but you my father.
That from this day forth we will build upon this friendship, this love and forgiveness and then Mrs. Smith did something that she has done with her son each day of his life, she kissed Carl upon his forehead and told him “ I love you son and never take that for granted” Carl just stood and weep profoundly for in that moment He truly knew He was forgiven.
They all sat; gather themselves and just conversation about the things that were affecting them all. This would be one of many visits Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Johnson would make to the prison to see Carl to encourage him and provide him with the tools he needed for his journey.
Mrs. Smith would also journey alone to see him and had become like a second mother to Carl over the years Mrs. Smith became a friend and a mentor to Mrs. Johnson as well as Carl.
Carl had changed tremendously and now was part of the restorative justice program in the prison and spoke openly how his unmerited forgiveness and love had changed his life.
While in prison Carl had gotten his GED, his associates and had become a Hebrew Israelite.
Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Johnson went to church every Sunday and always met for coffee and prayer. Their friendship was one of two mothers, who had become sisters and Carl saw and felt their love.
Today was the anniversary of Kevin Smith death and Mrs. Smith would be meeting Mrs. Johnson to visit Carl and they would together celebrate Kevin’s life.
Enclosing, I leave you with this “Be the first to forgive to smile and take the first step and you will see happiness bloom. Be always first do not wait for others to forgive for by forgiving you become the master of fate, the finisher of life, the doer of miracles. To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love in return you will receive untold peace and happiness” Robert Muller.
By: Kenneth M. Key