Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Conflicted heart

For the last 7 1/2 years I have shared my grief, anger, rage, pain, and sorrow. I have also shared my joy, excitement, opportunities and happiness. Life really is like a box of chocolates. A mix of everything. And of course...you never know what your going to get.

For the most part, we have tried to do what we believe Matt would want us to do. To move forward in a positive way. Often times, this has been extremely difficult. We thank God and all of our amazing family and friends for helping to make moving forward even a possibility. 

On April 12th we were notified that Matt's murderer was FINALLY denied the Writ of Habeas Corpus that he and his attorney had filed for the 2nd time. We are very relieved. I know that this is not the end of his appeals but I feel confident that he will continue to be denied.

I was taught this saying many years ago... "There but for the grace of God go I". I can relate to this on a deep level. I was a mess when I was young. No, I never killed anyone although I believe that I could have. I was making one poor decision after another. I was lost and full of fear. I thank God every day that I finally asked for help and began to make better decisions. My life changed. I had to make a decision to do things in a way that I had never done before. I had to change my thinking and my behavior. Gods mercy allowed me to be a good mother to my children and wife to my husband. I was blessed with many amazing relationships that I will cherish forever. 

Over a year ago I was asked to speak to men who have been sentenced to life in prison at California State Prison Solano. I share with them what it has been like since my only son Matt was murdered. I tell them how Matt's murderer is not remorseful at all. As a matter of fact, he is still trying to get a new trial which causes more anguish and pain for all of us. I share how my family was nearly torn apart due to the grief, anger and pain that this murderer of our beloved Matt caused. I tell them how Matt wanted to help young people grow up happy and successful. How he was trying to help stop the violence. I tell them that Matt wanted to lead in a positive way instead of a negative way. And He was doing that until this man decided to shoot him. Why?

The decision this man made on that September night 7 1/2 years ago changed our lives and the lives of so many forever and for generations to come on both sides. I see these convicted murderers that  I am speaking to cry as I cry. They approach me afterward and apologize for what their actions have caused their victims families and their own families. They share with me the hurt they feel knowing they can not change or take back what they have done. They can only try and live differently now. My heart begins to soften and open. I am reminded of the quote once again, "There but for the grace of God go I". I feel some peace. I have hope for restoration. 

I was asked to come back to the prison for a check presentation to The Matt Garcia Foundation. Some of the men are in a group called the Prison Outreach Program (POP). A food fundraiser is conducted every year and the POP program decides which children's charity they would like to donate the proceeds to. The foundation was selected as one of the non-profits chosen. The check was nearly $8,000. Our foundation is overwhelmed with gratitude.

 A picture of myself, the incarcerated men from the POP program along with the large check was  sent to me today. In the photo we are all smiling and happy. I realized that one of the men is the convicted murderer of my dear friends son. That same man is also the brother of another friend that I grew up with. How do I not have a conflicted heart? I believe in restoration because I have been restored. But, would I feel the same way if he were my sons murderer? Am I saying to myself that it is too late for these men to change the way they think and act? I believe anyone who is willing to take responsibility for their actions, can change. I have seen it over and over again for 26 years. I have also watched the devastation, destruction, and pain of those who do not take responsibility. Due to the fact that Henry Don Williams did not make a decision to change his thinking nor his actions/behavior my son is dead. Again, how do I reconcile that?

 I was in contact with one of the other people involved in Matt's murder. He is serving a 15 to life sentence for his participation. I was cleared to go visit him although he changed his mind as my visit date approached. I do know that if he had not gone to the police we may never have found out who shot Matt. For that, I am grateful. 

It's a very small world and whether we like it or not we are all connected. I spoke with my beautiful friend and shared with her that I met her sons killer. I also sent my other friend the picture from prison with her brother and myself and all the men from the Prison Outreach Program. I will continue to pray and ask God for guidance, clarity and peace for us all. My heart is feeling a little less conflicted now.