Sunday, September 12, 2010


This week is a high holy week in Judaism, set aside for atonement. And although I am not Jewish, I have long been exposed to and invited to participate in many of the traditions and celebrations of the faith. Unlike the Christian belief that when you sin against someone, you can just ask forgiveness from a priest or god, the Jewish belief states that first you need to go and ask forgiveness from the person you have hurt and make it right. This makes much more sense to me.

I began to practice this ritual many years ago. I have found it to be very humbling and very cleansing. And I have been very blessed that all the people (and there have been many) to whom I have spoken and asked forgiveness have always been extremely gracious and forgiving. Except, ironically, three leaders from my former church who chose to not even acknowledge my apologies. (Christian hypocrisy noted)

This month is a hard one for me, the anniversary of a violent attack that changed my life forever, and now, finally, doing some serious work in therapy to come to grips with it all. One of the biggest things I believe prevents me from having closure is that I don’t know the ending of the story. Because her parents would not allow me to see her, nor would they speak to me, I don’t know if, or where, Daphne was buried. I do not the exact date of her death. Or even how she died. There was no saying goodbye. There was no saying “I’m sorry”. Just a huge gaping wound that continues to bleed.

I have often fantasized about calling her parents hoping that, after all these years, they might give me some closure. Numerous times I have look them up, written down the phone number, but I have never been able to find the courage to call.

And then, on Rosh Hashanah, after considering all those other apologies I wanted to make ths week, it came to me. I was unable to apologize to Daphne but I could, should apologize to her parents. And as soon as I thought of it, the need to do it became overwhelming. For the last three days I have working on this letter. It has been agonizing. Every word. Every memory. The guilt. The staggering guilt. I have poured my whole heart into this letter.

Now that it is written, I am hesitant to send it.. I am wrestling with knowing that this apology is not pure. That I do have another motive, that of wanting some information back. And I don’t know how I’ll handle it if I get no response at all.

The thought of that seems unbearable.


  1. This made me cry. I'm so, so sorry for your pain and loss. It seems though, that words aren't enough, that they'll never be enough.

    This isn't helpful, but I couldn't read and not let you know that I read and thought about you and sent love and light and hope for healing and closure. I light candles on Sunday - I'll light one for you today.

  2. I can understand why the thought of that seems unbearable--but, at the risk of sounding hard-hearted, as I read your post, I kept thinking "What in the world does SHE have to apologize for?"

    For loving their daughter?

    You weren't responsible for what happened. That was pure evil, and you didn't cause it.

    If I were you (and I'm not!) I would think long and hard about giving Daphne's parents such power over me. IMO, they are the ones who owe YOU an apology. I can understand why you might want to reach out to them, and that this seems like a good way to do it--but I confess that the idea of it bothers me greatly.

    If it's not too personal to ask, what does your therapist think?

    With Kalisis Rising, I will light a candle for you today--and continue to pray for your healing and for some closure that will give you serenity.


  3. Whatever you decide, I pray that you will find your much deserved closure.


  4. Doxy - I would never apologize for loving anybody nor for anyone else' behavior. There is just more to the story that I feel responsible for, and an apology just feels right. Still I have added the remainder of your concerns to my list of hesiations and will speak to my therapist tonight.

    And thank you all for your continuing support.

  5. I'm sorry I'm so late to this and even more sorry that I've been out of commission lately.

    I think the healing needs to be in the letter itself and not in the possible response. I worry that you're setting yourself up for more pain if you are hoping against hope for a response from them. Is there is any way you can turn it inside out and make this forgiveness something you give to yourself? The act of sending this letter should be the release and it should end there. If anything comes back from them, that could be the bonus. Just think about it before making any decisions.


  6. There is just more to the story that I feel responsible for, and an apology just feels right.

    I'm sorry if I came across as trying to tell you what to do (or not do). I'm a firm believer in following your conscience, and you certainly know better than I what you need to do.

    But I will say this...I think that Greg is a very wise person. :-)

    Prayers continue...

  7. First of all, as Doxy said, you do not owe these people an apology. It’s the other way around. Will you ever get an apology from them? Probably not. Did Daphne ever get an apology from them? Probably not.

    Second, yes, you have an ulterior motive. But your motivation is not harmful to anyone. Your motivation is to speak your apology to Daphne and ease some of the hurt inside you. I don’t think that these people will help you.

    I want to condemn these people (and I do, in so many ways), but then I ask myself, how would I behave if my daughter’s boyfriend was the indirect cause of her death? Would I ever forgive him? No. Not ever. Not in a million years, not in the infinity of time. My life would be a wasteland of bitterness and it would never be bitter enough to express my loss.

    Please, please, understand that I absolutely do NOT think that you were in any way responsible for what happened to you and Daphne. If your crime was to hold hands in public, well, I have committed far worse and will continue to exert my right to do so. We do have the right to public displays of affection, although I imagine that you never exercise that right.

    In the long run, if it makes you feel better to send a letter of apology to her parents, then by all means do. But, I think to expect any response at all is just setting yourself up for a disappointment. What if you send a letter of apology to yourself instead?

    Love, hope, hugs, strength…

  8. I am so sorry to read of your pain and your loss.
    I hope you can work through the loss and find a way to come out through the light.

    You were not responsible for what happened, always remember that.

  9. If your letter comes from a place of love then I hope it is love you will receive in return. I feel Daphne's parents acted out of hurt when they banished you from Daphne's lives. After many years, I would hope that they, too, are on a path of healing and forgiveness. I agree with the others about writing the letter more for you than for the parents. Or maybe write a letter to yourself asking for forgiveness.