November 20, 2015

I Forgive You.

sad couple

Anyone who has suffered the unexpected loss of a partner or spouse knows the emptiness and agony that no one who hasn’t experienced death up close and personal can really fully understand.

Until we feel that vicious tearing apart of our soul, we can never imagine what it feels like to say goodbye without anyone there to hear the words.

No one ever tells us what it’s going to be like, and when there are things left unsaid, no one ever explains the sense of guilt and torment that can go on for years. Anger becomes deep, visceral sadness, even when it was once justified, because it is never balanced by compromise or kindness. The penance for harsh words becomes a life sentence because there is no way to take them back.

When there is a child—oh, when there is a child—the reminders always come at the most ordinary of moments. The slant of a glance when he’s irritated by rules. The way he holds his hands when he’s holding a spoon. The bounce in his gait as he heads toward his car.

But what eventually has to happen is peace. This, too, is part of a beautiful journey, and we all have a choice. We can sip from a cup of regrets and let it poison us slowly, or we can embrace the deepest lesson in loving unconditionally that we will ever face. To love someone in spite of themselves, knowing they can never make things right, is perhaps the second biggest test of love there is.

The first, of course, is forgiveness.  Today is my day to forgive.

Dear Martin,

Our son turned 23 years old today. I know you know that; you’ve surely stayed on top of everything he’s done throughout his life, even if you don’t share your smiles and tears with me anymore.

I don’t blame you for that; I never did, really. I mean, there was a brief moment in time when you first went away that I was angry, but it wasn’t out of resentment or bitterness toward you. I have known for a very long time now that it was not your fault that you left me alone, and that you’d do things differently if you had a choice.

I still remember the tone of your voice—partly because it etched itself into my brain so many years ago, and partly because I hear it now when our son calls to let me know he loves me. I know you know this, too, but he also has your hands and your smile, and that flat-footed walk I used to tease you about.

I knew something was wrong when it happened. I felt it in my very core. I tried and tried to call you, frantic but not knowing why, but I never heard your voice at the other end of the line. If only you knew—you wouldn’t have made the choice to drink that night. And you wouldn’t have started up your motorcycle and driven off into the darkness.

We were so young. We were babies, really. We were just 20 years old when he was born. I still remember how you cried when he came into the world. You were terrified, I know, but in awe at the same time. We named him after my grandfather and yours, and you were so proud of that.

I even remember the long-sleeved shirt you wore at the hospital that cold October night when he was born. You held my hand and stood next to me through the pain, in spite of, or maybe because of everything that had happened between us in those growing-up months between the beginning when we were just two teenagers in love, and the moment we heard our baby’s first cries.

Ten months later, I watched as you were lowered into the ground.

It has been many years now since I felt your presence, but I want you to know that I know. I know you are sorry. I know you never meant to hurt us. I know you would change so much if you could.

And I want you to know that it’s okay. We turned out okay. Our son is still finding his way, but he is loved. And as for me, well, I’m loved, too.

Truth is, the wounds have healed, even though I sometimes find myself, in my mind, running my finger over the smooth, pink brittle skin of the scar you left behind in my heart. And then I see my son—our son—grin and hear his laugh, and I know a part of you still remains.~

And I forgive you.




Author: Amanda Christmann

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Image: Flickr/Ana_Cotta

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