Originally published in The Forgiveness Issue of The Mockingbird magazine.

Somewhere in North Minneapolis in February of 1993, Mary Johnson received a visit from the police informing her that her only son, 20-year-old Laramiun Byrd, was dead. He had been shot and killed by a sixteen-year-old boy named Oshea Israel after a confrontation at a party. During the first months of grieving and into the trial period, Johnson said that she believed she had forgiven her son’s killer. In her court statement, she said this was because “the Bible tells us to forgive.” But then she realized she hadn’t really. “The…

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