Stories of change, redemption and forgiveness.

I was listening to NPR this morning, as I do every morning.  Story Corps is a favorite segment of mine.  There’s just something intriguing about listening in on a conversation between two people.  Learning how the lives of others differ from yours – how people met, how they suffered, died, celebrated…lived.

Today’s segment featured a woman and her son’s killer.  Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel.  Israel was 16 years old and, like many of the kids in my own neighborhood, involved in gangs and drugs.  He was at a party with Johnson’s son when they became involved in an argument.  Israel pulled out a gun and shot Mary’s son.

I know I talk a good game about being a cynic and hating people, but there’s still this side of me that wants to hope and forgive and believe people can change.

In Israel’s case, he was one of those kids who wasn’t taught to value life and when confronted with feelings of anger, he pulled out a gun instead of putting up his fists.  Today, he seems to have learned that when you use a gun, you damn every person whose life your victim touched to a lifetime of “what ifs” and “I nevers.”

I never saw him grow up.

I never saw him graduate.

I never held his first child.

Hearing Johnson say those “I nevers” made me cry; but what was moving wasn’t the grief, but her ability to get past it and see how she could celebrate those things that she never got to do with her own son, with Israel.  It gives me hope to think that there are people out there capable of true change and redemption and forgiveness.

Happy Friday, my peeps!