Monday, July 4, 2011


He didn't "take her life." He isn't "the one responsible for her death." As harsh as it may sound, and as dramatic as it may sound, the accurate description is that he is my sister's killer.

It's been a few months since we began picking up the pieces and were saying goodbye to my sister, Kathy. This coming week, the man who killed my sister will be pleading guilty to a single felony count, avoiding other charges he would also most certainly and easily be convicted of. I'm sharing here the letter I'm sending to the prosecutor to pass along to him. I do this not to sensationalize a tragedy, but rather to give insight into what I hope to come out of my sister's death. Time heals wounds, but scars remain.

Dear Brad,

Kathy was my sister. Kathy was a daughter, a mother, a niece, an aunt, a cousin, and a friend. And, Kathy was a sister. Kathy was my sister. And, I loved and miss Kathy very much.

Imperfect as Kathy was, as we all are, Kathy's not the one who killed herself, and neither am I, and neither is anyone else ... except you. You verbally and physically abused Kathy repeatedly over a long period of time. You chose to drive that fateful morning while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. You drove with extreme recklessness, lost control of your vehicle, and killed Kathy. You fled the scene without knowing if Kathy could be saved or not. You denied driving the vehicle, denied knowing Kathy, and denied those who loved Kathy the knowledge of her death until long after Kathy died.

It's time to stop the denial and accept ownership of everything you've done. It's time to stop throwing your life away. It's time to stop living a life of selfishness and destruction. It's time to start making something of your life. You have been blessed with an opportunity to do this.

I forgive you for everything. I don't have an ounce of that power of love and forgiveness inside of me except for what I've received. Recognizing my absolute brokenness, openly admitting it, and allowing myself to accept my need to stop living for myself has given me the strength to truly forgive you for everything. I want you to feel this as well.

God's grace is all you ever need. He died for you, so live for Him. Your life here won't ever be perfect. However, you will be changed beyond what anyone or anything can do here for you. You will desire to put Him first. You will strive to put others next. You will struggle to put yourself last. And, you will finally feel the love you've always been searching for.

I sincerely forgive you and love you and hope (for your sake and for others) for a changed life for you,



  1. What an incredible display of the grace of God demonstrated by you to this man! Thank you for sharing that. God is glorified by your difficult choice to forgive.

  2. My sister was killed by a self-described Christian minister, who fled, and who wrote to me saying it was God's will.

    Your letter matters for a lot of reasons, but I thought I'd let you know it matters to me.

    I miss her desperately. Your act of forgiveness helps.

    Thank you.

  3. This moved me to tears. I would hope for the grace you show here one day. Thank you Tom.

  4. Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability.

  5. Thanks for your honesty, Doyle. So sorry for your loss. I'm glad the post resonated with you, and I pray that your path is a good one blessed with peace, hope, and forgiveness.

  6. Tom, Kathy's story has resurfaced on my mind every time I see you on Twitter. You are an amazing example of Christina love. While I hope I never face a tragedy like yours, I can still use your example to help me become a better man.

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  8. I am sorry your sister was killed, for your loss, hers...But wow, you are so transparent, raw, and alive. That matters so much.

  9. Beyond words. My best to you and your family.