“Letter to the Victim’s Family” by Gordon Grilz

Gordon Grilz


On January 5, 1981, Gordon Grilz shot
and killed his wife and her friend in a
crime of passion at the Grilz home.

How can I say I’m sorry for murder
when my words are not strong enough
to bear the burden of my offense?

I know you hate me deep inside
where you’ve decided never to forgive.
I don’t blame you. I spent years
hating myself. You probably
wish I was dead. I don’t suppose
it would help to tell you about the times
I wished I was dead.

You lost your brother. I lost my wife.
When I was in county jail I prayed
that God would raise them from the dead
like Lazarus. It didn’t happen.

When they argued over the death penalty
I was ambivalent. Part of me wanted
to die right then, right there.

Twenty-three years later I have found
the grace to live and not die.
I have found meaning in a life of penance
helping others live in peace.

Forgiveness is a choice—mine,
yours. For years I wouldn’t forgive
myself. Sometimes it’s easier
to live with hate. It has a raw
power that can be intoxicating
but is corrosive, an acid that destroys.

It’s not so important anymore
what happens to me. I pray
for my children and I pray for you,
that somewhere in the pain and horror
of your loss you will find yourself
and not remain a victim of my sins.

from Rattle #23, Summer 2005

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