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Another Mother's Son

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When my beloved 18-year-old son was murdered in 1996, I thought my life was over. When it finally sunk in that this vivacious child of mine was dead, I felt as if I were having a heart attack from head to toe. I was numb. In order to survive this twisted nightmare, I moved to a different level of consciousness.

During the trial, I wasn't allowed to speak to Robbie's murderer. On the day of the hearing, I got my first glimpse of Shawn. He stared at the floor as they led him into the dimly lit courtroom. Shadows masked his face, distorting his features, giving him a grotesque fiendish appearance. Although it was my decision not to take the stand, I made it clear to the judge that I wanted to speak with this evil perpetrator after his sentencing.

At the conclusion of the arduous proceedings, the judge summoned me to his chambers. Filled with rage and hatred, I followed the bailiff into a small, paneled office. My heart beat faster with each step as I prepared to meet the young man who took my son's life. Shawn stood in the corner, head down, crying like a baby. His hands and feet shackled; this trembling, pitiful 20-year-old wore little more than baggy orange prison garb. As I watched this boy, so forlorn - no parents, no friends and no support - all I saw was another mother's son.

Suddenly I found myself asking, "Can I give you a hug, Shawn?" He looked up, revealing a childlike face stained with tears and nodded his consent. The bailiff motioned me toward the prisoner. I walked over and put my arms around him. "I forgive you for this horrible thing you've done. I will pray for you every day that you're in prison. I would rather my Robbie be where he is than where you're going." Our eyes connected for a few moments, and then the bailiff escorted me from the room.

Shawn received a 20-to-40-year sentence. How do you compare that to the life of my son? No sentence could bring Robbie back. I still wonder what made Shawn commit this crime. He has given me several explanations, but I still don't have an answer. He has been in prison for five years now, and, so far, I'm his only visitor. Shawn's sentencing has given me no satisfaction, but I believe the compassion I felt in the judge's chamber that day was a gift from God.

Because of the abrupt changes in my life, I'm now part of a prison ministry. I know I could not heal the deep, dark places of hatred and revenge, imbedded within my heart and soul, had I not forgiven my son's murderer. Forgiveness has set me free.

Hatred and revenge won't bring back my beloved son, Robbie, but Shawn is someone's son too. The hatred has to stop somewhere. What better place to begin than with me?

About the Authors: Mary G. Lodge is a mother to five children, eleven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. She is a Stephan Minister in her church and enjoys speaking on the subject of forgiveness. Contact her at LodgeDoor@aol.com . Together, Laura Lagana and Tom Lagana are co-authors of "Serving Time, Serving Others" and "Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul." They travel the country as professional speakers and authors, incorporating motivational and inspirational programs behind prison walls on their journey. Laura is author/editor of "Touched by Angels of Mercy" and Tom Lagana is co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul."

Reprinted by permission of Laura Lagana www.LauraLagana.com , Tom Lagana www.TomLagana.com and Mary Lodge, Copyright 2003, from "Serving Time, Serving Others, Acts of Kindness by Inmates, Prison Staff, Victims, and Volunteers." In order to protect the rights of the copyright holder, no portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent. All rights reserved.

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