“Phyllis Ferguson, mother of the Chardon High School shooting victim Demetrius Hewlin, told ABC News that if she had the chance to talk to suspected gunman T.J. Lane, “I would tell him I forgive him because, a lot of times, they don’t know what they’re doing. That’s all I’d say.” (ABC news site)
This interview appeared on a TV network news broadcast. Phyllis Ferguson, whose son was murdered, spoke these words calmly and serenely. Her stoic presence along with the impact of her words affected my usual nonchalant reaction to what I deemed as yet another ‘sensationalism take on a news story’. Instead of changing the channel, I sat on my couch, watched the remainder of the interview, and cried.
Ferguson’s son, Demetrius, along with several other students, was shot while socializing amongst friends in their school’s cafeteria. Some of the students survived while Demetrius and two others died in the hospital. The apprehended gunman, a student also at the same school is now awaiting trial.
The crime was horrific, the scars left on the survivors, and those who knew the victims are incomprehensible in my view. I have not lost someone to a violent crime and pray it will not happen. The teenage gunman, acted alone, heartless and calculatingly cruel in his decision to arrive at school that day with the knowledge he would terminate and cripple lives. Who made him GOD? What right did, He, posses to execute and extinguish lives? The entitlement and judgment were his alone and I feel anger towards him, balancing on hatred, without the knowledge of his background story. I am judging a person I do not know.
A mother lost her son to murder and had justification to hate the shooter and to speak ill of him and his family. Instead of doing so, Phyllis Ferguson chose to not let hate fester within her. She chose to forgive and in doing so allowed the memories of her son to remain pure in her heart not overshadowed by hatred or worse yet, to allow the hatred to fester within the memories of her son. Now when she reflects on her son, she can relate to pure memories instead of memories tainted of her son with the afterthought of the shooter.
I admire Phyllis Ferguson, for her strength, courage and faith. Her actions, in a time of emotional trauma exemplify true Christianity. Thank you Phyllis Ferguson and God Bless.
“I taught Demetrius not to live in the past, to live in today and forgiveness is divine. You have to forgive everything. God’s grace is new each and every day”.-Phyllis Ferguson