Setting the Prisoner Free conclusion

essay, non-fiction Add comments

Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation~Roberto Assagioli

Jump ahead six years to when I visited my cousin Gail in Pennsylvania.  For no other reason than proximity and lack of spare time, we had lost touch with one another for over fifteen years.  She called one hot July day out of the blue and suggested I come out to visit her.  After little more than a twenty minute “reuniting” phone call, I made airline reservations and two weeks later flew to her hometown about an hour south of Erie, in a small town called Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Gail picked me up from the airport—we recognized each other immediately.  We hugged, kissed, laughed and cried.  Once in her car she burst out, “I hope you don’t mind, but I made appointments for us with a psychic-spiritualist-medium up in Lilydale, New York.  It’s a whole community of psychics and new age people.”

I’d been to a  psychic or two in my life years earlier.  They were okay experiences, but nothing which compelledcrystal ball me to begin seeking out psychics on any kind of a regular basis.  Edgar Cayce, in my opinion, was blessed and an anomaly.  What was I going to say?  Gail had already made the appointments.

On the drive to Lilydale, Gail and I talked non-stop about our similarities.  We shared much in common philosophically and spiritually.  She had become a doctor of naturopathic medicine and I, while having finally graduated, had gotten married and had three children, was back in school working on my master’s degree and still reading tons of spiritual material.  Nonetheless, nervousness flowed through every vein about this psychic appointment.  I kept looking out the window, staring at the gray sky “snake oil, fortune tellers and crystal balls and eyes of newt.”

For the last few minutes of the trip there, it began to rain and I planned my approach.  Under no circumstances would I offer one ounce of information during this reading other than my name.  No way would I let any facial movements show this person any sort of approval/disapproval or agreement/disagreement with anything said.  The closer we got, the more these thoughts took on a mantra-like quality.

We pulled into the gated community, parked the car and began walking, with out umbrellas, up a hill toward rows of small Victorian homes, one right on top of the next.  The rain was cool and falling hard.  We turned on to a sidewalk leading up to one of the homes.  A sign hung on the outside door “Session in Progress.”  Wet, we sat on a covered porch in rocking chairs, mine moving at quite a clip, and chatted about how the other members of our families were doing.  A moment later the door opened and a woman of about forty held the door for the previous client.  Then she asked which one of us wanted to go first.  Gail insisted I go in first.

I followed the woman into a small room, sat in a chair noticing the frayed purple scarf wrapped around the woman’s neck.  She shook hands with me, placed a tape in a cassette player and began with a prayer.  After the prayer she quickly explained that she would do all the talking and only asked that I nod if anything made sense.

Within five minutes my jaw dropped, tears ran down my face and I was in a constant state of nodding.  The third right-on-the-money piece of information she gave, “A man is here.” The psychic turned her head as though she was listening to someone in the room.  She nodded her head.  “He is very sorry, very sorry.” I watched as she continued to listen.  “His initials are W and C.  he took his life in front of you?  He wants you to know he is so very sorry.”

victorianporchBy the end of the hour I was dumb struck.  My cousin Gail had no prior knowledge of the things this woman told.

After the session, I stepped out side, sat in the chair on the porch and wept the entire hour Gail had her session.  It came to me:  Warren was afraid to die alone.  I forgave him.

Incidentally, Gail came out of the reading disappointed that very little the woman had to say to her made any sense.

~ ~ ~

A year and a half ago in 2008, a young twenty-six year old woman named Vicki Van Meter, known for piloting a plane across the United States when she was 11, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  My cousin Gail lived next door to the Van Meter family.  Gail found Vicki dead.

Gail phoned me after the incident, rattled, shaken, in shock and saddened.  She told me how hard it was to find some one who really understood.  “And, where is the gift?” she asked me.

“You may not know for some time.  I’ve just discovered another one of mine~to be the someone who can truly hear and understand what you’ve gone through.”

After an hour or so of listening to Gail’s story of what had happened, Gail said, “You know, thank God I found her and had her body taken away before her parents got home from out of town.  What if they had seen what I saw?”

“Gail,” I said, “there’s your gift.”

This story began in 1986 with the self-inflicted gunshot death of Warren.  Over the years I’ve written this story in several forms~none of which seemed to say what I wanted to say.  During the writing of this recent version, I stopped in the middle to search for the journal of letters to Warren.  I looked and looked and have decided there must be some reason I cannot find the journal (and this coming from someone who rarely if ever throws away a list, let alone a journal).  I believe the reason probably is that I don’t need to relive this story at the level.  That part I have let go.  No, it is not something I will ever forget, and sometimes I still move my head when sitting at a stoplight, but I will remember the gifts.


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14 Responses to “Setting the Prisoner Free conclusion”

  1. Paul V Harris Says:


    Thanks for sharing this- It is such a beautiful story of forgiveness- It reminds me that forgiving someone has very little to do with them- Forgiveness is about what it does for us.

    Thanks for reminding us that nothing in life happens without leaving us with a gift- we just need to have the courage to look for it and see it for what it is.

    With much love to you my friend,


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