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Powerful Stories of Forgiveness

By Kim Carrigan

(BOSTON) Every once in a while, you see something so incredible and admirable, that it stops you in your tracks, leaves you in awe and changes the way you think about life. We’re looking back at two news stories that did just that and left lasting impressions on everyone who saw them. They also inspired a closer observation at the decision one makes to forgive.

In a split second, your life can change forever. Maybe it’s happened to you. Maybe it hasn’t.

It happened to Mark Cronin.

“ I remember driving the motorcycle. I remember you know, headlights coming at me, and not having a chance to react and get out of the way quick enough and I just remember blood pouring out of me and saying you know, my leg, my leg.”

The day after being struck by a drunk driver who was traveling the wrong way on the highway, Mark woke up in a hospital bed.

“ I kept tapping down at my leg, I didn’t know if it was gone or not, i couldn’t speak because I had a tube in me, and then my wife finally let me know that my leg was gone.”

Kai Leigh Harriott’s life changed just as quickly.

“ I was on the porch with my sister and then you could hear like, it sounded like firecrackers, but it wasn’t the Fourth of July.“

The gunshots that Kai heard, were the result of an argument in a first floor apartment. A stray bullet would hit the then 3-year-old.

Her mom Tonya recalls that night at the hospital.

“ She was lying in like a trauma room, and I looked at the x-ray and I couldn’t really read it, but I could see a bullet. It had severed her spinal cord 99.7%.”

That shot, fired by Anthony Warren, left Kai paralyzed from the chest down.

Kai, Tonya, and Mark, all made the choice to forgive and their acts of compassion played out in courtrooms for the world to see.

During an emotional victim impact statement, Mark forgave Marybeth Frisoli, the woman who hit him and caused him to lose his leg:

“ I know you’re sorry. I really do. I wish we could turn that night back, but we can’t. I lost my leg, my family lost a lot, and I know you’re sorry, and I know your family, a good family, lost a lot too. What I do in my life is going to reflect on my 3 children so I have forgiveness for you. And I do hope the best for you. I hope in the future we can get together and maybe talk about the evils of Drunk Driving.”

In a recent interview with FOX 25 Mark said “ I hear people talk, oh, I could never. I could never. Until you’re in the situation, you don’t know what you could do and what you can’t. It made it easier for me knowing that she was sorry. It made it a heck of a lot easier for me to forgive. As long as I can still be here for my kids to see them walk down the aisle and do everything and I’ll still be able to walk down the aisle and do all the stuff with them, I’m not going to be as active, but I’m still going to be here to see it, that’s huge for me. If this was my son or daughter that she might have hit, I might have had a whole different attitude, I don’t know. I don’t know how I would react.”

Kai Leigh Harriott won’t walk down the aisle and her mom knows what it feels like to see her daughter robbed of so much. But like Mark, she found it in her heart to forgive, and she did it the night that Kai was shot.

“ I made the decision before I even reached the hospital. I don’t know why, but I did. I believed that she would live and not die, if I forgave.”

Kai’s victim impact statement would be a reflection of that decision:

“ I forgive Anthony Warren. What he done to me was wrong but I still forgive him.”

More and more evidence is pointing towards the healing power of forgiveness and the medical community is taking notice.

During a visit to FOX 25, Dr. Oz said “ As a doctor, there are few things that I feel really strongly about and probably the number one thing I could focus on is this whole issue of forgiveness — being able to forgive yourself as well as the people around you…. and the ability to get past the problems that you’re having in your life, and allow yourself to make mistakes and get past those as well is what allows folks to have longevity they crave. When we look around the world, at places where people live a long time we see patterns of humility, compassion and forgiveness endemically found in these societies. It’s part of their culture. It’s part of what we need I think in our nation as well.”

So how do we do it? How do we turn anger into peace, let go and forgive? Nance Guilmartin, author of Healing Conversations and the Power of Pause, encourages people to get curious, not furious.

“ All of us sooner or later something somebody did just is hurtful, painful or infuriating, and we can’t forget it, and we start putting what I call “deposits” in our resentment bank account. Sometimes we don’t know we’re even doing it. What if we could stop and rethink, “What did I stuff somewhere and can I take it out and look at it a little differently.” And maybe there’s something I don’t know I don’t know about what was going on that day for me or for the other person. And maybe we can begin to breathe some compassion or some understanding for what we couldn’t possibly know or see at that time, so yes– there is a way to begin to look and at maybe you can’t let it go right then, but you can begin to soften that hard knot and give yourself a choice, do I want to carry this around for the rest of my life?”

In addition to the personal benefit of letting go one decision to forgive, large or small, can affect your home, workplace, community and the world in ways that are immeasurable.

Kai Leigh Harriott could never have imagined what her act of forgiveness would do, especially for the person who least expected it. In 2008, Anthony Warren recognized that in a videotaped apology from prison .

“ To be blessed with the opportunity to be forgiven by a beautiful person like Kai Leigh and her family. It made me want to change. It made me not less want to be colder and harder. It made me really take a look at myself. She gave me a second chance to really make a difference and to show people out there that forgiveness is good.”

Kai’s mother, Tonya David, has started the organization Forgiveness is the Way to promote forgiveness.

Their motto is “The quality of life that you live each and every day is determined by the choices you are willing to make.”

Do you have a story about forgiveness? Please share it with us.

Share your story of forgiveness with us below…

www.thekilamgroup.com

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 29, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    Great story!

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