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Forgiving Her Son's Killer...

 
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Az~Maverick View Drop Down
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    Posted: May 08 2014 at 7:45pm
It would be easy — expected, even — for Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel to be enemies. After all, he killed Johnson's only son, in 1993. He went to prison for that — and toward the end of his sentence, he and Johnson made peace.

As a teenager in Minneapolis, Israel was involved with gangs and drugs. One night at a party, he got into a fight with Laramiun Byrd, 20, and shot and killed him. Oshea is now 34; he finished serving his prison sentence for murder about a year and a half ago.

Israel recently visited StoryCorps with Johnson, to discuss their relationship — and the forgiveness it is built upon. As Johnson recalls, their first face-to-face conversation took place at Stillwater Prison, when Israel agreed to her repeated requests to see him.

"I wanted to know if you were in the same mindset of what I remembered from court, where I wanted to go over and hurt you," Johnson tells Israel. "But you were not that 16-year-old. You were a grown man. I shared with you about my son."

"And he became human to me," Israel says.

At the end of their meeting at the prison, Johnson was overcome by emotion.

"The initial thing to do was just try and hold you up as best I can," Israel says, "just hug you like I would my own mother."

Johnson says, "After you left the room, I began to say, 'I just hugged the man that murdered my son.'

"And I instantly knew that all that anger and the animosity, all the stuff I had in my heart for 12 years for you — I knew it was over, that I had totally forgiven you."

Johnson founded From Death To Life: Two Mothers Coming Together for Heal­ing, a support group for mothers who have lost their children to violence.

And for Israel, Johnson's forgiveness has brought both changes and challenges to his life.

Mary Johnson holds a two-sided locket she wears on a necklace. On one side are photos of herself and her son; the other has a picture of Oshea Israel.

Brian Mogren

"Sometimes I still don't know how to take it," he says, "because I haven't totally forgiven myself yet. It's something that I'm learning from you. I won't say that I have learned yet, because it's still a process that I'm going through."

"I treat you as I would treat my son," Johnson says. "And our relationship is beyond belief."

In fact, the two live right next door to one another in Minneapolis.

"So you can see what I'm doing — you know firsthand," Israel says.

And if he falls out of touch, Israel is sure to hear about it from Johnson — who calls out to him, he says, "'Boy, how come you ain't called over here to check on me in a couple of days? You ain't even asked me if I need my garbage to go out!' "

"Uh-huh," Johnson says with a laugh.

"I find those things funny, because it's a relationship with a mother for real," Israel says.

"Well, my natural son is no longer here. I didn't see him graduate. Now you're going to college. I'll have the opportunity to see you graduate," Johnson says. "I didn't see him getting married. Hopefully one day, I'll be able to experience that with you."

Hearing her say those things, Israel says, gives him a reason to reach his goals.

"It motivates me to make sure that I stay on the right path," he says. "You still believe in me. And the fact that you can do it, despite how much pain I caused you — it's amazing."

But Israel is not the only one who's impressed.

"I know it's not an easy thing, you know, to be able to share our story together," Johnson says. "Even with us sitting here looking at each other right now, I know it's not an easy thing. So I admire that you can do this."

"I love you, lady."

"I love you too, son."

Mary Johnson, 59, spoke with Oshea Israel, 34, at StoryCorps in Minneapolis.

http://www.npr.org/2011/05/20/136463363/forgiving-her-sons-killer-not-an-easy-thing



Couldn't be me. Sleepy



Edited by Az~Maverick - May 08 2014 at 7:46pm
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eanaj5 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eanaj5 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2014 at 7:49pm
he looks a lil....erm...

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herwoman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote herwoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2014 at 7:57pm
Yeah I'll be your friend and let you live right next door to me and as soon as you came over to take out my trash...I would blow your brains out (for breaking in my house).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote bunzaveli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2014 at 7:57pm
that, no thanks, walk backwards on a set of train tracks. go kill yourself like you killed my son. ill leave the forgiving to whatever higher power you believe in .

"this aint a movie dawg" - jay z
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote JoliePoufiasse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2014 at 8:17pm
Huh... Yeah... Taking this forgiveness thing to dizzying heights, aren't we? Maybe I'm missing the merciful gene...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kerysdream7 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2014 at 8:39pm
Wow....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote femmefatale85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2014 at 8:39pm
nah
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thewonderfulwa View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote thewonderfulwa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2014 at 8:41pm
It ain't never going to happen in this life or the next. I guess she's a better person then me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote QueenBee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2014 at 10:15pm
Not sure if I could do it but I commend her for not having a harden heart and allowing it to make her bitter.

I don't judge how one chooses to forgive if this allows her to be in a better place so be it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Benni Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2014 at 11:23pm
This is so individualized.   Hard to know what I would do/how I will feel under the circumstances unless I was actually put in that situation.

Hope I never have to find out
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