Getting ready for work of a morning, I often have BBC’s Breakfast show on in the background. Yesterday, I actually stopped with half a face of make-up to take in a short story that caught my attention.
Patricia Machin was telling how her husband of 13 years, Gerrard, went out for the paper one December morning and never returned. He was run over by a 29-year-old man in his car. As well as instantly heartbroken over Gerrard’s state, her heart went out to the young driver who was broken up by what he had done.
Gerrard died and the driver went to court for death by careless driving. Patricia wrote him a comforting letter and stayed out of the court room over concern that she would make the driver’s experience even worse, seeing the woman he had made a widow. She hugged him as he left the courtroom, forgiveness flowing out of her.
However horrible the experience was for her, the softly-spoken, warm-natured Patricia reasoned it would be harder for the driver because he had caused it. She wanted the driver to “not see this tragedy as a setback but a stepping stone to wisdom for the future.” She said she never blamed him.
I don’t know how I would react in such a situation. Even recognising the importance of forgiveness and admiring Patricia, I don’t know if I would be capable of the same forgiveness, right away at the scene of the crime. Patricia said she’d had the joy of being with Gerrard for 13 years whereas the driver had nothing. What a challenging, touching thought.