Forgiving (and Loving!) Your Only Son’s Killer

forgivenessStoryCorps is an organization whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of their lives. We came across this extraordinary story on The Daily Beast and had to share it. 

Mary Johnson’s only son, 20 year old Laramiun Byrd, was murdered during a fight at a party by 16 year old Oshea Israel. Mary visited Oshea in prison and they experienced a miracle of forgiveness and healing that is evidence of divine grace. Please take the time to listen to the three minute interview here. Time well spent.

Here’s a little snippet of the interview:

Mary Johnson: You took my son Laramiun’s life, and I needed to know why. The first time I asked you to meet with me, you said absolutely not. So I waited nine months and asked you again—and you said yes. You and I finally met in March 2005 at Stillwater Prison. I wanted to know if you were in the same minds-set of what I remembered from court when you were sixteen. But you were not that sixteen-year-old boy anymore. You were a man. You entered, and we shook hands. I just told you that I didn’t know you; you didn’t know me. You didn’t know my son; my son didn’t know you. But we needed to get to know one another. And that’s mainly what we did for two hours. We talked.

Oshea Israel: I found out that your son’s and my life paralleled, and we had been through some of the same things, and somehow we got crossed. And I took his life—without even knowing him. But when I met you, he became human to me.

When it was time to go, you broke down and started shedding tears. And then you just started going down, and the initial thing I tried to do was just hold you up in my arms. I’m thinking, I can’t let her hit the ground. So I just hugged you like I would my own mother.

Mary: After you left, I said, “I just hugged the man who murdered my son.” And that’s when I began to feel this movement in my feet. It moved up my legs and it just moved up my body. When I felt it leave me, I instantly knew that all that anger and hatred and animosity I had in my heart for you for twelve years was over. I had totally forgiven you.

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