Heavenly Peace

After the hateful thing happened, her mother sent her to stay with cousins in Tennessee. It was only days before Christmas. It the worst period of her entire life.

She’s in her car. Vehicles are parking outside the chapel. People are dressed in dark colors. Greeters stand at church doors nodding to those walking inside.

She crosses the street and makes her way in.

She is nervous. Her hands tremble. She shakes hands with the grieving family. She offers condolences. She looks at his body. She cries.

They are not tears for him.

He was no saint. In fact, he was what some folks would’ve called “no good.”

He treated his first and second wife terribly. He was abusive. Unfaithful. Bad to drink. His kids were estranged. His friends were few.

He was her uncle.

As a girl, he lived with her family. She was fifteen; he forced himself upon her.

It altered her life.

After the hateful thing happened, her mother sent her to stay with cousins in Tennessee. It was only days before Christmas. It the worst period of her entire life.

It got worse when she started waking to morning sickness.

It wasn’t long before she had a daughter. The baby was magnificent, but her mother made her put the child up for adoption.

The folks in white uniforms escorted the baby away from her. And, since good teenagers did what they were told, she let them.

But she doesn’t want your sympathy. In fact, she wants people to know that she doesn’t need it.

Years later, she met a man. He was kind. Funny. Young. He was studying to become a teacher. He encouraged her to finish her GED, go to college, to be proud of herself. He told her she was smart.

And she believed him.

She studied nursing. She studied late hours, worked clinicals. And when she earned her certificate, he was there.

They were married. It was a simple ceremony.

But on their first night as man and wife, she had a panic attack. It was a bad episode.

“Please don’t touch me!” she screamed.

Old wounds came to the surface. She recoiled. She cried. She left the hotel on foot.

He followed her, driving behind her. He begged her to get into the car. She finally did. Then, she told him about her past. She expected him to be disgusted.

He didn’t even blink. He only held her.

Over the years, her baby-fat has disappeared. She got older. She raised two children with him. Family vacations, nice house, nice cars. Her children attended good colleges.

When she heard about the passing of her uncle, her first reaction was not anger. She packed an overnight bag.

“Where are you going?” asked her husband.

She wouldn’t say.

She drove across three states and arrived in a familiar town. She stood in a single-file line to stare into a casket.

“I forgive you,” she said to the dead man. “And even though you tried, you didn’t ruin me. God bless you, and I pray you’re at peace.”

That was all.

She got into her car. She drove away. She ate gas-station snacks. She sang with the radio. She returned to a home of three people who can’t live without her.

And this Christmas, her twenty-nine-year-old biological daughter will be joining them for supper.

And she just wanted me to tell you that.


  1. Marty from Alabama - December 12, 2017 2:08 pm

    You have just told the story of a lot of young girls, but hers turned out so good.
    You still amaze me with your writing. You make the stories become a part of us. Thank you for bringing us these bits of real life. And without all the unnecessary stuff that some writers throw in to make it “better.”

  2. Rachel Lindsey - December 12, 2017 2:14 pm

    Crying again.

  3. Jan - December 12, 2017 2:21 pm

    Familiar story, well told.

  4. Mary Moon - December 12, 2017 2:28 pm

    I usually love your stories, Sean, but this one leaves me cold. I, too, was sexually abused as a child by a family member. I never told anyone then. He got away with it for years and I have to think that part of the reason he did was that other family members who should have protected me, didn’t. He went on to molest my little brothers. All of us, in our way, have suffered from that horror our entire lives and always will. Our family is shredded. My own family of husband and children and grandchildren are, miraculously, close and loving and for that I am incredibly grateful every moment of my life. But I am still haunted. I am still broken in ways that can never be repaired. And trust me- the woman in your story is too. Forgiving someone who did something like that to you does not heal nor does it fix. It’s like forgiving someone who intentionally ran over you and crushed your legs. The damage is done and will not be undone. There can be moments of peace and there can be moments of joy but underlying, there will always be pain, especially with a child who was taken from her mother.
    There is no forgiving for a monster who created such pain.
    At least, that’s how I feel about it.

    • suziern - December 12, 2017 4:55 pm

      Mary.. you worked hard to raise an intact, loving family. Wish you would reconsider your suffering. I know it is possible to put it down and walk away. Thanks for sharing, Sean.

      • Mary Moon - December 12, 2017 11:59 pm

        “Reconsider” my suffering? Is that like reconsidering the color I painted the kitchen? I wish. And it’s not my suffering that makes me angriest. It’s what my husband and my family have had to go through because of my childhood. It is not fair to them.

    • Janet Mary Lee - December 14, 2017 4:59 pm

      Mary, I pray that you find peace. What was done to you and yours is unforgettable. It is almost unforgivable. But forgiving is never condoning what has happened. Forgiving does more to heal you than what it does to the person you are trying to forgive. It is a process, different for everyone, and different in the time it takes to move through that process. Some things you must give to God. Acknowledge, then let go. It is not worth that hold over you that person has. Because then he wins. Evil wins. Do not let his be the final word. You are correct, Pain will be there . But it can be changed into something far more powerful,yet gentle. Let it. I hear you…

  5. rita j naftel - December 12, 2017 2:32 pm

    Whew Sean, this was a deep one! But, as you said, her story needed to be told!

  6. Ann - December 12, 2017 2:35 pm

    This story is what it all about. In order for someone to go on living who has been through something like this, you have to forgive them.
    I really enjoy reading your e-mails each day.

  7. Juanita Ruth One - December 12, 2017 2:50 pm

    Forgiving is not the same as forgetting. The first is healing, the second impossible.

  8. Jack - December 12, 2017 2:51 pm

    Let’s hope God forgives the voters of Alabama.

    • Pat - December 12, 2017 3:05 pm

      Forgiveness for either choice Jack…

    • Smitty - December 13, 2017 5:58 am

      I’m not sure God forgives abortion and those who condone it and are complicit – in particular late-term abortion. It was a sad choice either way.

  9. Sue Cronkite - December 12, 2017 2:51 pm

    God bless you for sharing her story. And God bless her.

  10. Carey S Amberger - December 12, 2017 2:52 pm

    This beautiful story gave me chills.

  11. Sarah Kennard - December 12, 2017 2:59 pm


  12. Pat - December 12, 2017 3:03 pm

    I was anxiously awaiting the ending and was not disappointed! Thanks!

  13. Penn - December 12, 2017 3:10 pm

    Yes, your stories a meaningful and so well written that you make many of us jealous. But your real secret? You are the best “closer” in the business. Keep writing, Sean. ?

  14. Angie - December 12, 2017 3:17 pm

    There’s a reason they call it a “PEACE that passes all understanding.” It’s a Peace that only comes from one place. And I’m so glad she has it. I’ve experienced that peace, also, and there’s nothing like it when you are hurting so deeply. I pray her Christmas is her best one yet.

  15. Connie - December 12, 2017 3:27 pm

    Oh my. Beautiful spirit. What a loving, forgiving example of what we all should be.

  16. Cynthia Bandy - December 12, 2017 4:35 pm

    Wow! You’ve brought tears to my eyes again! I just love your stories!!! Keep up the great work!

  17. Riley - December 12, 2017 4:48 pm

    GOD BLESS THIS WOMAN. Her courage and bravery will speak into so many lives. If she sees this, thank you for sharing – and Sean, God bless you for writing her story. <3

  18. Susie Hardin - December 12, 2017 6:47 pm

    Oh my! God bless!

  19. Brian Heinz - December 12, 2017 6:59 pm

    God can heal any wound no matter how horrific it was.

  20. Deena - December 12, 2017 7:02 pm

    Thanks once again for this sad story with a beautiful ending-not actually an ending but the beautiful continuation of the good things that happen in this world!! ?

  21. muthahun - December 12, 2017 7:40 pm

    wow… no words

  22. Jack Darnell - December 12, 2017 9:14 pm

    Deep read. Every person is different. I believe this lady is ‘good to go’, maybe some, as the commeter who suffered and suffers cannot get thru it . I hate that. But we are all different.
    As I said, deep read. Has nothing to do with politics.

    • Eva Lantrip - December 17, 2017 2:53 am

      Thank you, Jack Darnell! You said exactly what I wanted to say to the person who brought politics into the discussion.

  23. Toni Tucker Locke - December 12, 2017 9:14 pm

    You know the worst in us and you know the best in us. You must be on daily speaking terms with our Lord!

  24. mountaingrays - December 12, 2017 11:58 pm

    The words you write are in my inbox each morning and it’s the one email I leave till last so I can savor it. Thank you for sharing your talent with us in this way. And a big thank you to the lady who so graciously shared her story. I applaud her bravery, her ability to forgive – not that she has forgotten and not that she hasn’t and still has to work thru the damages – but that she was strong enough to not allow him to ruin her life.
    Thanks again.

    • Janet Mary Lee - December 14, 2017 5:04 pm

      Amen. Well said!

  25. Jody - December 13, 2017 12:22 am

    Forgiving is a gift we give ourselves.

  26. Pamela McEachern - December 13, 2017 12:49 am

    I think we get to witness a tragedy come full circle very rarely in our lives, this for me is one of those times. I am sad that this has been distorted into a political platform for some. I say God Bless this special lady and her reunion with her beloved daughter.
    Peace and Love from Birmingham to EveryOne.

  27. unkle kenny - December 13, 2017 12:56 am

    another good one. uk

  28. Tish Gressang - December 13, 2017 2:23 am

    Such a wonderful story. Merry Christmas

  29. Jo - December 13, 2017 7:10 pm

    I am very happy that this lady has been able to get past the horror of her past. Thank you for telling us a story of hope and power of love.

  30. Marion Pitts - December 14, 2017 3:00 am

    This guy a chord in my soul. Our stories are parallel. I’m so thankful I met the man I married. He accepted me and loved me. He still does. We celebrate 50 years of marriage in March 2018. Two retired teachers.

  31. Marion Pitts - December 14, 2017 3:03 am

    Oops! Needs to be “struck “not “guy”! Not sure how this spellchecker works!

  32. Janet Mary Lee - December 14, 2017 5:12 pm

    Sean, you have given my soul a lift. And have made me humble. Thank you, again…

  33. Debra - December 15, 2017 7:49 pm

    You bring people into my life that leave a footprint on my heart. They come to my mind again and again.

  34. Kathy Phillips - December 17, 2017 2:37 pm

    That’s a blessing. God bless her and her family and you for all the things you do.


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