‘Goodbye for now’
Watching horrible events unfold on the news is one thing. Of course it breaks a heart to think that people are actually so awful that they are capable of rape, murder, kidnapping, etc. It can give you an extreme sense of hopelessness, and giving up on the goodness inside of becomes an easy thing to do. When you are on the other side of the camera talking about someone you knew that will never embrace you again, the experience is completely different.
That Sunday is burned in my memory, because no other day in my life has ever brought me so much pain and loss in one day. Rachel sat with me at church like she had every Sunday for the past six months. She was the kind of person you could say anything to and she would listen without judgment. I envied how pure and simple she saw the world and the people in it. This Sunday was different because I wouldn’t see her for a week. After service I gave her a hug and said “have a nice trip.” She said, “goodbye for now,” like she always did.
That afternoon a man walked onto the church’s campus with a gun and a backpack full of ammo. Most people know the story, but not like I do. He shot at Rachel’s van, and killed her sister instantly. They airlifted Rachel out of the parking lot, but reocery looked so bleak. That afternoon I had called friends who went to my church. They all picked up, except for Rachel. Every time I tried to call her I got this sinking feeling in my stomach, and I couldn’t breathe. Never have I felt a stronger premonition that something was wrong.
“Good bye for now.” Those words will forever haunt me in a way I can’t describe to you, the reader. Rachel’s murder changed me as a person forever. I still wear a band around my finger with her name on it not only to remember her, but this roadblock that I overcame eventually. Everyone has a moment of revelation; my epiphany taught me to overcome a grief so overwhelming I was paralyzed physically and emotionally. The darkest tunnel has a light at the end, and the most awful situation imaginable has a solution. My solution was forgiveness. It sounds so simple, but it took me four months to forgive the shooter for the pain he caused. I was so mad that he died instantly, I wanted him to die slowly, I wanted him to cry out in pain, I wanted him to feel what Rachel had felt in her last moments. I finally learned to throw these feelings out, and replace them with forgiveness. It was hard, but I apply this lesson to every aspect of my life.