Last week I wrote about learning to forgive myself (by God’s grace) after our son passed away in 1988. Forgiveness can be a very powerful tool in restoring relationships (and our lives). This week, I am very pleased to hand the blog over to our family friend, Marcus Mosey, who, through a family tragedy, has also learned about the incredible power of forgiveness.
On 21st December 1988, something happened that would change our family and my life forever.
I was 16. My 19 year-old sister, Helga, had been home for just a week before Christmas and was heading back that afternoon from our home in Birmingham to the USA. We had fought like cat and dog (her being the aggressive cat!). For the first time in years, that week I had experienced a loving, caring sister. On the departure day, I didn’t want her to go back to her gap-year au pairing job in New Jersey. But I needed to do some Christmas shopping, so I headed into the city, and promised I would be home in time to say goodbye.
Later that afternoon, I returned home, having totally forgotten that my sister was due to leave for the airport at 2pm. She had gone.
Afternoon turned into evening, and I sat upstairs watching something on the old TV set. Suddenly the programme that I was watching was interrupted with a news flash. A plane had come down over a town in the Scottish Borders. I experienced a fleeting, sympathetic grief that anyone with half a heart would have in such circumstances – a deep sadness for the unknown families of those affected. I remember thinking: ‘Some people are going to have a miserable Christmas and New Year…’
Over the next hour, we found out that it was my sister’s plane, Pan Am 103, which had come down over the sleepy market town of Lockerbie. Our lives would never be the same.
In the coming days and weeks, many facts were established. Bodies strewn over the beautiful Scottish countryside were recovered, along with parts of the plane and people’s luggage. Memorial services were attended by politicians and dignitaries, private funerals and wakes took place in the US, UK, and other countries. For weeks, months, years, this event occupied front covers, columns of newspapers, and the media. Even to this day. But for me, I had to deal with the grief of losing my sister and also the fact that I didn’t keep my promise to get back from shopping before she left. I never said goodbye. I wished I had told her that I loved her and that I forgave her for the years of pain she put me through. But I didn’t. Somehow, I had to forgive myself, and also the perpetrators of this deed. So I prayed. I asked God to help me forgive.
He came. And all sense of hatred, revenge, and unforgiveness towards the perpetrators (whoever they were) just dissipated within this amazing force shield. He had us. He had me.
But I still struggled to forgive myself for not keeping my promise. Strangely, it was easier to receive God’s help to forgive others than it was to forgive myself! It was like I had this self-disappointment attached to me on a leash. It would just be there, wherever I went, even though I didn’t want it. Then, one morning a few months later, I woke up, and it was gone. I was no longer feeling that sense of shame and regret. It was just gone! I was free.
As a family, we have seen amazing things happen around the world as a result of the Lockerbie air disaster; so many great things that God has brought out of such a dark event. Many children’s lives in Asia have been transformed because of my sister’s death.
But for me, the greatest act of God is that I have not been overcome with unforgiveness and anger. Instead, I have been able to walk on from that evening before Christmas in 1988, free from bitterness, able to forgive. Most importantly, to forgive myself – because God already had.
Marcus Mosey, June 2016