When I looked up from the notebook I was writing in my breath caught in my throat. My eyes narrowed as I tried to pull an image from ten years ago to the front of my mind and compare it to the man standing a few tables away. This isn’t the first time I thought I had seen the drunk driver who killed my daughter. In fact, I have always known it might happen because he was released from prison after serving only four years and lives in the same relatively medium sized city I do. My eyes concentrated on his. Could it be him?
He’d be in his early thirties now. Would I even recognize him? Would he know who I was? Does he think about her? About the family he tore apart with his habitually bad choices?
About three years ago, I decided that I couldn’t carry the weight of my anger toward him any longer. It was like acid eating away at my insides. I knew if I was going to start doing any type of lasting healing I had to find a way to let the rage go. Finding a way to do so wasn’t easy. I spent a lot of time soul searching. Releasing the anger didn’t happen all at once. Rather, in small pieces, little by little. I knew someday, I’d see him again, and I would have to tell him I forgave him for killing my child.
Two reasons helped me make this decision.
First, I didn’t want my daughter’s legacy to be one of nothing but pain. Becca lived a beautiful life full of happiness and love before the night her life was taken. She was so much more than a victim of a drunk driver. My daughter would want me happy and as whole as I could be. I want that for myself as well.
Second, she would want him to have the best life he could possibly have. Without getting into a discussion about what happens when we die, I believe where she is she knows it “all”. My daughter was never one to carry a grudge or harbor resentment. I know Becca would want him to be productive and successful with the time he has here. The happy and healthy life she didn’t get to complete. Now, I want that for him, too.
My heart is beating quickly as I try desperately to figure out if the man standing in the coffee shop is the one I spoke to in the courtroom. I waver back and forth between sure and not sure. The answer is revealed when his name is called for his drink order. The wrong name. This isn’t him.
For now, I am relieved of having to make the decision to talk to him or not. This won’t be the day. As I said . . . I am sure that day will come. I hope I have the courage to approach him.
For the time being, I’ll continue to work on forgiving him.