On the third day of this gratitude journey, I wrote about my sister Ioana (read “Ewoana”; she would want you to pronounce her name correctly!) and her healing after a severe stroke left her paralyzed on the right side at the age of 31. Ioana was determined to heal and she did. She was witty, funny and sometimes outrageous.
The posts in my blog are all about gratitude and everything that I am grateful for. I truly believe that in every event or circumstance there is a golden truth that holds the gift of gratitude. This was indeed the case for me and my family four years ago.
Four years ago Ioana was killed in a terrible motorcycle accident. She was 39. It was an extremely painful and trying time for me and my family; we struggled with the aftershock of this tragedy and for the first couple of weeks my life felt like a movie, unreal and with nothing to hold on to.
Ioana was the passenger and could not hold on when the man riding the motorcycle accelerated to 200 km per hour on the shoulder of the highway. She fell off the motorcycle and her body rolled into traffic. She was killed instantly. The man did not stop, he just continued on. Three weeks later he was arrested and eventually went to jail.
So you might now think: “So in this great tragedy, what was there for you to be grateful for?”.
During the weeks and months that followed, my family and I have known the hear-felt, continuous and compassionate support of friends, relatives and strangers. They out-poured their love, words of kindness and encouragement to us.
I was grateful for their love. I experienced great waves of healing energy generated by the people who came together with love to assist us.
The police officers and the investigators went beyond their job requirements to support and make it easier for us to go through the daily steps of the criminal investigation. Since my mother in Romania does not speak English, they went to the length of finding a Romanian speaking officer who could talk to my mother directly. They felt that she needed to talk to them herself and not only through me. This act of kindness helped my mother tremendously.
There were so many opportunities for gratitude. Gratitude made those first days easier.
A year later, I was present at the trial of the man who killed my sister. That is when I really understood the power of FORGIVENESS. I realized that forgiveness is one of the greatest healing energies, a gift presented to me right then and there.
From deep inside myself I felt the power of true, unconditional forgiveness. To my awareness also came the fact that this very moment was one of my greatest forks in the road: I had the power to choose TOTAL FORGIVENESS right then and there or choose to remain angry, hurt and feeling like a victim.
In that courtroom, I was fully present in a heightened state of awareness. I was aware of the greatness of that very moment. I knew that it was my choice and my choice only. Life is truly made of what we choose to do with what we encounter.
I CHOSE FORGIVENESS, total and unconditional forgiveness.
I realized that out of the tragedy of my sister’s death my family and I had the opportunity to FORGIVE. We chose to forgive this man who is now serving a sentence for killing my sister.
My decision to forgive and my gratitude for this rare opportunity lifted the suffering veil and brought a new level of compassion and understanding.
My sister’s death taught me the power of love and support, taught me that people are truly kind AND that forgiveness is a choice. These are all true reasons to feel a deep sense of gratitude, even though they stemmed from such a tragedy.