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Jennifer

Being permanently and horribly scarred at the age of 12 over my face, neck, arms, hands and the entirety of my back due to severe second and third degree burns makes it difficult to forgive when my own sister is the reason for the injury.

At 2 a.m., after dousing the upstairs level of our home in gasoline and then lighting it, I was left to find my way out of my upstairs bedroom. I was blown out of my window. Luckily, my father was standing under it, and amazingly, he caught me. I was airlifted to a burn center 60 miles away and my recovery began. It was the most painful experience of my life. I was burned not only on my body, but my esophagus sustained damage due to inhaling fire. The doctors gave me a 5 percent chance of survival.

I had my first surgery six hours after my arrival, which lasted nine hours and covered only my hands from the wrist down. Each was grafted with skin from my scalp and my backside. You can imagine what the rest of my surgeries were like and the amount of time they took, etc.

I found out after being released that my sister was pleading "no contest" to the various charges, including arson, and soon she received a seven year sentence at Youth Authority, essentially a prison for youth criminals. She had some very serious problems and it wasn't until six years later that I decided I wanted to speak with her. I contacted her parole officer and soon we were on the phone talking.

It took me all those years, but she was/is my sister and I loved/love her. I desperately wanted her to know that I had accepted her often-given apology and that I loved her very much. I knew she hadn't intended to injure me, but she still has a hard time believing me.

I knew due to the fact that I had some very serious coping issues that to survive in my own mind and overall wellness, I had to forgive her. I truly have and I hope this testimony will allow her to see that I love her more than any words or essay can say, and I know that she would NEVER intentionally do anything to hurt me.

I hope that she and maybe someone reading this will see that forgiveness can happen even in the midst of the deepest tragedy. I have forgiven her.
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