Have you ever mourned the loss of someone you didn’t even know? I remember the night I learned Princess Diana was killed in an automobile accident. I was driving home from work and because I took the news so hard, I had to pull off the road and regain my composure. I had the same reaction this week when I discovered my estranged half-sister passed away at the age of 68. I hadn’t spoken to Lori (Lorein) since the early 90’s when I tried to connect with her. I was working outside New York City at the time, just three hours from her home in Pennsylvania. I was willing to drive to Pennsylvania to meet with her, but she refused to see me because she did not want to share memories of our father with me. She told me she had to have years of counseling to overcome the day he died while competing in a polo match at the Brackenridge Polo Fields in San Antonio. She had attended the match with my mother, witnessing the tragic event. I was born two months later.
What I find interesting is that while family members did not contact me about Lori’s passing, I believe God told me directly. I hadn’t searched for her in years, but this year, I felt something had happened to my sister and I began to look on-line to find out if the feeling was correct. That’s when I came across Lori’s obituary from January 31, 2012, and a more recent photo, posted by her children. The resemblance was eerie. It could have been my picture displayed at her funeral. I thought, “How sad.” I often dreamed that Lori would reconsider our estrangement and would call and ask to meet, but now, that is an impossibility.
Why do I post this sad tale? It is to encourage you to make amends with your estranged loved ones. So many of us find reasons to distance ourselves from family members and hold grudges, when Jesus commands us to forgive. In Matthew 18:21, Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” When I think about how many times I have betrayed Jesus, I am thankful He forgives me repeatedly. I can’t imagine what it would be like if He chose to distance Himself, never to have contact with me again! Even Jesus had to forgive his own brothers who did not believe in Him until after his resurrection. His brother, James, was one of the first he appeared to when he rose from the dead. That was an act of unconditional love. While I did not sin against my half sister, I was associated with an event I had no control over, my father’s death.
So today I mourn someone I never knew, my half-sister, Lori, but it may not be too late for you. Ask Jesus to help you forgive your loved one and to see them with His eyes. Your unconditional love will help fill the void left by your silence.