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June 30, 2015

Email from the Wife of the Man who Murdered my Dad.

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In response to I fell in Love and got Married (in Prison).

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Many people take umbrage with what they perceive as the internet intruding on our lives, diminishing our humanity and separating us from each other. I am not one of those people.

On May 1, 2007,  as I worked at my computer awaiting confirmation of the date I was to lead a weekend retreat at a healing centre in Victoria, BC, an email came.

This was an email informing me that I had received a donation of one hundred dollars to my publishing house. The name of the donor, which I found out later was supposed to be anonymous, was Sherry Edmunds-Flett.

Because of reading about my work on the internet, Sherry decided with her husband, Glen Flett, to send the donation.

Glen Flett is the man she married in prison—and he killed my Father, Theodore Van Sluytman, on Easter Monday, March 27, 1978. Sherry met him in prison, while he was there serving a life-sentence for that crime.

Not long after making the decision to donate, they began to change their minds for fear that healed wounds could be reopened. Further, they knew that because Glenn was an individual on life-time parole, pressing send could cause some severe legal issues.

In Glen’s absence, Sherry decided to press send anyway.

In choosing to press send, not knowing that the intended anonymity would not prevail, Sherry unknowingly opened not wounds but rather a tightly-barred door of unresolved grief and sorrow. A door that yearned to be opened. A door that yearned to invite light. In pressing send, Sherry invited an encounter that would create opportunities for powerful conversations—and vital healing.

And in time, Glen and I would meet.

From our respective provinces, we did our due diligence. We researched each other. We surrounded ourselves in community and support. And when Glen and I met July 14, 2007, in Abbotsford, BC, at Westminster Abbey (a mere half hour after Sherry had picked me up from the airport, our tears and her bear hug speaking our trust and our gratitude) we knew that all would be well.

All would be well not just for that one moment in time, but for us to trust in what our meeting each other meant for each of us and for life itself. Life whereby we are much more than one savage act we have committed or one savage act committed against us.

I have always been grateful that Sherry pressed send, as grateful for she and Glen that they met and fell in love in prison. Even as I am fully aware of why Glen was serving a life sentence—a bullet to my Dad’s heart—I am just as fully aware that life is a poignantly, often painful and just as often beauty-steeped dance of mystery wherein paradox, process and possibility invite us to Sawbonna.

And to Sawbonna means that we see each other and that we listen to each other. It means that we challenge narrow and false concepts of who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do based on the notions and words and concepts that would try to shrink us into stock and staid characters in a tiresome one-act play.

The wife, Sherry, of the man who murdered my Dad, Theodore, and the man himself, Glen, have names, faces, hearts, souls, courage, creative fire—just as I do and just as my Dad Theodore did.

I celebrate Sherry for pressing send just as I celebrate she and Glen falling in love.

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Author’s note: This is written in response to I Fell in Love and Got Married (in Prison). by Sherry Edmunds-Flett. After reading it, I was compelled to share another story about what some might deem an unlikely friendship.

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Relephant Reads:

I fell in Love and Got Married (in Prison).

How Forgiveness Frees Us.

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Author: Margot Van Sluytman

Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: InCase/Flickr

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