To the editor:
In the early morning hours of March 24, 2004, my brother Kevin Clewer was stabbed to death, by a still-unknown individual. This isn't about that day or any specific day since. This is about the subsequent journey, hope and a letter between me and that unknown person.
You may recall, my family was very vocal and visible those early years after Kevin's death. We openly sought justice. We had a single mission: to find you. We were confident you were a mad and hateful person. Honestly, we hated you at times. I hated you at times. Time has passed ( almost 13 years ) and, with time, comes change. Time can settle people and time can make us more in tune with ourselves.
Over the past several months I have given great thought to my mistakes, judgments, and even that occasional past swell of hatred towards you. I have softened dramatically. Admittedly, this vulnerability scared me initially, but I know it was and is essential to my freedom. This transition is driven by experiences and my desire to reconcile themi.e. my brother's death, my parent's deaths, witnessing others' loss of respect toward people who are different, and the loss of love and kindness in our nation over these past few months. I bet we share similar experiences.
Over my 50-plus years, I have seen the discord caused by impulsive decisions, including my own. Changing requires an admission of mistakes. To deal with the harm caused by these actions, we are traditionally taught or told to move on; to forgive and forget. Forgive. Forget. Easier said than done.
For me, its seemed easier to forgive someone I love vs. someone I didn't. Thus, my journey to you. I've learned neither is easier than the other. Forgiving hurts; however, I now know the process ultimately brings freedom. I've also finally realized forgiveness isn't conditional and that I had not truly forgiven someincluding myself. Additionally, love is also not conditional and I haven't loved well either. Somewhere deep in me I'd kept a record of mistakes and missteps and used them to judge and in some cases, condemn those I love; including you.
I was late in realizing the power of love. For years, I struggled thinking I wasn't worthy of receiving or sharing real love. Maybe you have felt the same way? Kevin's death fueled this struggle. It wasn't until recently I realized the value of openly loving others and this better spiritually fulfills me.
The power of love and forgiveness is essential because forgetting is never truly possible. Memories of good and not so good times are always present. I believe it is the power from both love and forgiveness that will help cement what is and was important.
I am hopeful we can forgive each other to achieve our own freedom, as the last thing we have been is free. In my pursuit of freedom, I've finally realized that love is the key to true forgiveness; unconditional love. This letter comes to say that, as a brother, I love youand, as one who made the mistake of killing my biological brother, I forgive you.
Where we go from here is unknown. If this letter finds its way to you, it's really now up to you. For me, writing you and sharing these thoughts has lifted a weight from me. I am hopeful you will reach out to me as your true freedom will come when we can lift that weight from you.
Peace and love,