It’s been more than a month since I’ve written here. The reason is every time I put my fingers to keys, I know what I really should be writing. Next week, my mom will travel to Austin, TX for the allocution of George Martinez, Jr., the man responsible for my brother’s death. During the allocution process, the victims of his crime will have the opportunity to speak to the defendant, or in my case, my letter will be read in court as I cannot be there in person.
This is my one and only chance to speak to this man, to say the things I need to say and to finally put this chapter behind me. Not to put Joey behind me, but to release the pain and anger.
I know some of the things I want to say, some that I need to say, but nothing seems like enough. There just aren’t enough words to hold the impact of this tragedy on my life. Losing Joey has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me, but I’ve used the pain to make me a better person, possibly better than I ever would have become without this loss. Which is just way too messed up to really think about.
I’m not really angry at Mr. Martinez anymore. I certainly was, and I can’t say I’m too thrilled with the justice system, but I had to let go of the anger to move forward. And while there are lots of things I could say to this man, the only thing that’s really left to say is, “I forgive you.” And those are the ones I keep tripping on.
verb (used with object)
1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve
2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
3. to grant pardon to (a person).
4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one’s enemies.
Give up my claim. That’s the one that stands out to me. I don’t think anyone would disagree that I have every right to claim that George Martinez has wronged me and my whole family, not to mention all of Joey’s friends. Can I give up my claim? Can I cease to feel resentment?
These are the hardest words to say, the hardest words to write, but I don’t think I can call myself a follower of Christ if I don’t DO them. God has forgiven me. I’ve made stupid decisions that could have had tragic results but I got lucky. Who am I to hold this claim?
So, George Martinez, Jr., I release my claim. I grant your pardon in my heart. I take you off the hook. I miss Joey wholeheartedly, but I refuse to spend any more time being angry at you. Go serve your time and live your life free from my hatred, anger or judgement. I forgive you. Forgive yourself, and then be better. You took Joey Jello’s life; please take one more thing from him. Take his passion for life. His neck tattoo said, “NEVER BETRAY.” Stop betraying yourself and start making choices that add life to your days on this earth. Be a better man, husband, father. When you leave this earth, may those left behind say, “I’m so glad I got the chance to know him.” That’s what the friends and family of Joey Jello are saying, and it’s not too late for that to be your legacy, too.