NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After Tonya Thomas’ son was killed in a hit-and-run accident, the man behind the wheel was released after just nine months.
But Thomas was able to forgive him, and now is hoping to share her story with thousands.
Her son, 25-year-old Calvin Thomas, was hit while walking home from the YMCA in Nippers Corner on Nov. 8, 2012. He was just five credit hours away from earning a business admiration degree at Tennessee State University.
Police arrested Charles Towns three weeks later. Towns had been arrested several times for DUIs, reckless driving and driving with a revoked license.
In 2014, Towns was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.
“I’m sorry, and I’d do anything to make up for it. I know I can’t make up for it,” said Towns at the sentencing hearing.
Then Thomas did something many mothers may not have been able to.
“I do forgive you. I do forgive you, and I hope you get the help that you need,” said Thomas at the sentencing hearing.
Two years later, she is stronger than ever.
“Unforgiveness is like cancer to me. I would have been fighting twofold, the grief and the death of my son and then the heartache and anger toward someone else. I can’t afford to have all of those emotions going through me and be anywhere near sound,” said Thomas.
After her son’s death, Thomas began journaling. Those journals eventually turned into a book.
“The story has to be told, and no one can tell your story better than you,” said Thomas.
Thomas picked the title “Am I Your Enemy Because I Tell You The Truth?” because she says the truth can be uncomfortable.
“What makes the end so great is the middle and all that it took, the process, and we can’t take anything away from the process. It solidifies us,” said Thomas.
Towns did not serve his full sentence.
“They ask, ‘Are you angry? Do you feel angry?’ For me personally, it’s not anger. I am exhausted. I’m tired. I’m disappointed,” said Thomas.
Thomas says just because she’s been able to forgive doesn’t mean she won’t stop fighting. She hopes to do that through organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and, of course, her book.
“There is an equal opportunity for all of us to experience pain, but there is a greater opportunity to for us to give the greatest gift of all human kind can give and that’s love,” said Thomas.
Thomas will be hosting a book signing on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Kingdom Cafe at 1210 Jefferson St. in Nashville.