On April 15, 2015, a jury convicted former New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez of the 2013 murder of his friend Odin Lloyd after a sensational, months-long trial in Fall River, Massachusetts. Details of the trial and killing abound on the web, as the case captivated the nation due to Hernandez’s sports stardom.
But perhaps the most stunning moment of the trial came after it was over. At sentencing, we finally heard from a lady who’s stood quietly at the center of this trial while the media lavished its attention on Hernandez: Odin Lloyd’s mother, Ursula Ward. What she said when she addressed the court is truly remarkable in light of the profound suffering she’s endured. We should all pause to think about what it says about her, and what it says we are called to do:
“I forgive the hands of the people that had a hand in my son’s murder, either before or after. And I pray and hope that someday, everyone up there will forgive them also.”
For victims and their families, justice isn’t full healing, though it forms an important part of it. Mrs. Ward is bridging the gap all victims face between justice and healing. As hard as it is, that bridge is built with forgiveness.
This is lady of uncommon strength, who I suspect would be first to tell you it doesn’t come from her. She’s taught all victims how to transcend a tragedy justice cannot undo, so they can go on.