On March 28, 2010, the Grosmaires had just returned home from Palm Sunday service, when the doorbell rang. They were shocked to find a deputy sheriff on the other side of the door with a woman who identified herself as a victim’s advocate, with the Leon Country Sheriff’s office. She was the one who told them that Ann, their daughter had been shot.
Kate and her husband Andy were then informed that their 19-year-old daughter Ann had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Ann had spent the day with her longtime boyfriend Conor.
Kate asked, “Was Conor with her?”
And it was the deputy sheriff who said that Conor had shot her. She couldn’t process why that would have happened and was convinced it would have been an accident. It wasn’t until they got to the hospital and that the detective told them there had been an argument.
Conor had immediately turned himself in. And the Grosmaires had to focus on their daughter’s health since she was on life support.
Her father, Andy, stayed bedside her all night praying. About 2:00 in the morning he was standing over her bed and he heard her say, “Forgive him.”
She did not say those actual words, since she was in a coma, but he felt like she was saying it to him. He knew exactly what she was talking about. She was asking him to forgive Conor.
And he bluntly refused. After about twenty-five minutes of struggling with it, he finally said “I’ll try.”
Anne never woke up.
The next day the deputy told them what had taken place at Conor’s house on Sunday. They had been having a breakup fight and Conor had intended to get his father’s shotgun to kill himself, but when Ann came back into the house, they continued to argue and he ended up pulling the trigger and shooting Ann instead.
They realized she would have to be taken off life support, when CAT scans showed the level of damage that had been done to her bullet riddled brain.
Andy waited by his daughter’s bedside.
As he sat there gazing down at her, he saw her transform in the bed. And what he saw was Christ become one with her. Not separate but as one completely together. He started sobbing because he said he realized that Christ was with his daughter and that it was not Ann asking him to forgive Conor. It was Jesus.
He said “How could I say no to Him who had forgiven me for all my transgressions?”
While at the hospital, Kate discovered that Conor had put her name on his jail visitation list. She went to see him the next morning, on Good Friday. He immediately started crying and said he was sorry for what had happened. Kate gave Conor the message that Andy had given her and that was that he loved him and forgave him.
She said ‘Conor, you know I love you, and I forgive you.’
Kate returned to the hospital and Ann was taken off life support that afternoon. She died that same day at 3:00pm.
Conor was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Andy and Kate still visit him regularly and call him weekly.
“The Grosmaires’ decision to forgive me was the only reason that I ever came to believe in God and believe in Christ, Conor says from his prison near Tallahassee, where he is serving twenty years. “There’s no other explanation for the forgiveness the Grosmaires showed me. Normal people do not forgive the man that kills their daughter. Normal people would hate and condemn. Normal people would be angry and hold onto that anger and wish me nothing but evil and probably want me killed. Instead, the Grosmaires decided to respond with forgiveness, and respond in love. And that’s –that’s nothing but the love of God shining through them.”
In the years since Ann’s death in 2010, Kate and Andy have become a spiritual mother and father to the young man who took their daughter’s life, nurturing his newfound faith, and attending his baptism. All because they were able to forgive.
“The thing that forgiveness has done for me is to keep me from going to prison with Conor, from being locked in the cell of my own hatred and anger and bitterness,” Andy says.
Conor adds, “One thing that Kate said is that she wants me to live a life that’s worth two lives, to live a life that–not makes up for the life I took–but at least puts good back into the world. I’ve got to give back. I’ve got to serve others. I’ve got to help others.”
“I could not define Conor by that one moment, “Kate says, because if I defined Conor by that one moment, then I was defining Ann by that moment as well. That would make her a murder victim, and she was so much more than that. So every year, even though there’s a date that is the anniversary of her death, Holy Week will always hold that special message for us. That even though there is the death on the cross on Good Friday, resurrection will follow on Easter Sunday.
Have you ever felt God leading you to take a step of absolute or difficult forgiveness? Have you faced a situation where you had to forgive someone who according to the world’s standard or your standard is not worth forgiving?
How did you work it out and what was your process?
Please leave your comments below.
(Culled from The 700 Club)