This was written by a Father to his children while he currently is incarcerated at the prison I serve at.
“If we could know tomorrow, then maybe we would avoid today’s mistakes…”
Some things we do in life end up taking away from others far more that we can ever know. On the day I was arrested,(02-06-2000) I ended up taking someone away from two families. One family lost a Daughter to heaven, while the other family lost a Son to incarceration. That day innocent children were left without a Mother and a Father. That day, siblings were forced to accept the loss of a Sister and a Brother, and in that moment both families had an empty chair at the table.
No matter what happened to bring about these tragedies, saying “I’m sorry” will never be enough, and serving a prison sentence of any length won’t ever reverse the time. I think it should be said that our outcomes on that tragic day could have been easily reversed. Then it would be her writing this article from a prison cell, while my family would have lost a Son to hell. I say hell because I did not know Jesus as my Savior back then; either way, both families would still have an empty chair at their tables.
Unfortunately, once things were set in motion there was no option for a good outcome, and we obviously did not considered those that would suffer due to our absences. On that day, hate, vengeance, and grief were automatically inflamed. And as you can imagine, the details of the incident really don’t matter to a mother who is forced to grieve the loss of a Daughter. This pain has no ear and Christian forgiveness has no place when the death of our dear children is before us. I imagine how the Heavenly Father must have felt when His Son Jesus was crucified.
In 1991, my Mother suffered and died, and as a result I blame and even hated God for taking her. So I know how the children feel in having me to blame for them not having a Mom, but trying to explain self-defense to a child is pointless after a Mother’s funeral. In 2010, while I was still in prison, my Daughter was killed in a car accident. Describing the agony is beyond me, but now I know how the parents feel… God help us all because in the heart of this man there was no answer for the pain.
And let us not forget about the physically abused child that knows her Father, her so called protector, cannot help her because he is locked away. For that child there is no hope and no comfort. And what of that Son who, while seeking a Father’s guidance, is instead deceived by an uncaring father figure. For him there is no understanding of why he was abandoned or how he will recover.
Over time, we grow up still holding fast to our own misfortunes and issues that stem from the empty chairs at the table. Consequently, some have been driven closer to each other and some have been driven apart; some became inwardly bitter while others became outwardly better. For some, the empty chair will never be filled, and for some it was never really empty. This is because those who are absent remain present in their hearts.
For my part in all of this, I say “I wish it would have never happened.” Even if I were acquitted at trial or even released some day from prison I will still wish it would have never came to having to choose between my life and hers. It was never my intent that any parent, sibling, or child would have to suffer even one moment due to my actions. Therefore, in the name of Jesus, I say “I am deeply and sincerely sorry to both families for my part in the empty chairs at your tables.”
In closing I would ask that you consider this: forgiveness is more for you then for those you extend it to, but extend it we must… extend it we must.