My life changed one summer evening, on August 16, 1992. I had gone fishing with my family, including my youngest brother Josh, two days before. My parents left that day for a weekend vacation to Salt Lake City. Josh and our cousin Gage were staying together in my parents’ home. I was supposed to watch them to make sure nothing happened to them. Josh, Gage, and their friend Andrew Wolford went to the local convenience store for some treats and a pop. When they were walking into the store, a young man and his friend were sitting in their pickup truck watching them. They didn’t know my brother, but one of the young men had a gun. He told his friend, “I could kill that kid.” He aimed his gun and shot my brother in the head.
I was awakened that night by pounding on my front door. It was my niece, and she said that my brother had been shot and they were transporting him by helicopter to Idaho Falls. I raced to the helicopter pad and saw my brother being loaded into the helicopter. I rushed to the hospital twenty-five miles away. I held my little brother’s hand later that night after the surgery as he was dying. I wept and let go of his hand as he died.
The police said that the young man that killed my brother was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing. He was a son of a very rich and connected person in our community. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, found guilty and sent to drug rehab for six months, then released on probation. I was angry that my brother’s life wasn’t considered worth jail time. To me the police seemed to be on the killer’s side. The prosecutor wouldn’t even hardly talk to my family, and was next door neighbors to the killer. It didn’t seem fair. The police chief told us that boys will be boys.
Hatred grew in my heart. I hated the young man that killed my brother, and I hated that people that I thought helped him get away with murder. For a few months this hatred consumed my life, and then I realize that it was destroying me. I knew that I must forgive and that I was becoming somebody that wasn’t the person I need to be. I prayed to God for forgiveness and to help me love this young man that killed my brother. The tragedy wasn’t my brother dying, but the young man that killed my brother. I realized that for the Savior to forgive me, I must forgive that young man. Christ could forgive the Roman soldiers as they were killing him, and he would forgive me of my sins. He would forgive this young man, and so I did. A great weight was taken off of my shoulders, and I felt love in my heart again.
Since that time, I have thought when people make me mad that if I could forgive this young man that killed my brother, then I can forgive anyone. I can now say that I hate no man. Sometimes the worst things in your life are the best things for you, because they teach you the most important things of life. One of them is forgiveness.