Press Play to start audio

August 21, 2007


[From Second Story] "Sonia"
Joanne Leonard

After Loss, Forgiveness

After Loss, Forgiveness

Mary Viehland is a typical mom. She enjoyed it when her teenagers would invite their friends over to hang out for the afternoon. Little did she know that those same young people would turn her family's life upside-down.

The problems started when Mary's son Josh started his freshman year in high school. Josh had previously gone to private school, and when he started at a larger public high school, he wanted to stand out.

Josh soon found himself mixed up with the wrong crowd. He was doing drugs. But when he fathered a child as a teen, Mary says Josh decided to turn his life around.

Then one day Josh heard that his friends had bought drugs from a drug dealer and not paid their tab. Josh began to nag them to pay up. Inexplicably, his friends saw Josh as the threat, and decided to kill him.

Mary's story, though, is more than the loss of her son. It is about how she found the strength in herself to visit his former "friends" in prison, and even forgive them. 

This story was suggested by Mary's daughter Rachel who left us a voice-mail message about her mom's story.


Joanne Leonard has been a photographer for decades. She often used a makeshift home dark lab, but after taking a job teaching photography, she was able to pay someone to build a darkroom for her. Technology has meant many changes in the photography world, and Joanne recently made a decision to dismantle her darkroom. She tells us what it was like to take apart and pack up a room that has been a defining part of her life for over three decades.

She also talks with Dick about one particular photograph - of her sister-in-law Sonia, hanging laundry when she was pregnant.


Three Lullabies For Deirdre: Gently Rocking by Anthony Byrne for the album Piano Music; Image and Likeness by Fr Charles Klamut for the album Rarefied Air

Tagged with

You might also like…

Daily Story Update

Get daily updates and special announcements about The Story.

Produced by

WUNC North Carolina Public Radio 91.5 logo