Mine was no ordinary Thanksgiving. It was my first following the death of my mother three months ago. I have also lost a friend and my favorite uncle. Last week another friend hovered between life and our loss of her. Sunday she passed away. But a story, juxtaposed to this week of heavy-hearted sorrow moved me in ways that, however briefly, made my spirit soar. It is the story of love and overcoming overwhelming injustice. And it is the story of forgiveness and transcendence.
I saw this. Story on “Democracy Now.” Sonia (Sunny) Jacobs wed Peter Pringle this past week. This is a different story of life and death (and love) that could make you more thankful than ever, as it did me. They each spent a decade-and-a-half on death row-for crimes they never committed. Sonia’s first husband was even executed before he was exonerated. His was the famous case whose head caught fire during his electrocution. You probably read about it. How do we live with ourselves, I wonder?
The story of how Sunny endured and even grew during her horrendous isolation in solitary confinement, the only woman in the US on death row, is one about truly loving woman, embracing life in all its sometimes awfulness, and staying strong both physically and mentally.
She could use her time, she said, to be the best person she could be. She had lost everything. Her first husband. Her children. Her parents, who were her children’s guardians, died in a plane crash. And so her children were put in foster care. Most painfully there were no “do-overs” now that her first husband had already been executed prior to being found innocent. She received no compensation and lives simply and sustainably in Ireland.
Today she also lives a life of service, working to free the wrongfully accused. May it be so for the rest of us. Whether it is providing food for the hungry, homes for the homeless this holiday season (or more importantly throughout the year), heat for those whose homes not having it, coats for the cold, freedom for the falsely imprisoned, or love and forgiveness for those who have stumbled, may it be so. My friend fought so hard to stay alive, doing every single activity she could to make her stronger in mind, body and spirit. Can we do any less for ourselves and those who surround us? I hope you take a look at the link and are similarly inspired.