In the solace of my room, surrounded by the things that have the audacity to make me happy, in a place that is constructed to bring me pain and sadness. Pictures of my children, family, and friends who no matter what have chosen to stand by me. Certain quotes that inspire strength, change, growth, and love for yourself and others no matter their choices cover my wall…I was finally able to, after five years of praying and struggling to find the strength, to forgive my co-defendant.
The feeling itself that day was so overwhelming it brought me to uncontrollable tears. I cried for what seemed like hours, but then I decided that I needed to let him know. At that time, we had no communication what-so-ever. Neither one of us were in a place where we wanted to speak to the other. He was full of guilt and felt like I held nothing but hate, and I was angry with a 24/7 reminder of a bad, horrible, erratic decision.
I took my time over the next couple days and told him everything that was on my heart. This is what I said… “I hold not hate in my heart for you. I forgive you, whole heartedly, for everything. Every single decision you made that led us down the wrong path, every hurt you caused me that I allowed. Every single time you broke my heart, shattered it even…. I forgive it all. To be able to forgive you, I had to forgive myself, and I’ve done that. I forgave myself for not trying to stop you that day, or not making you leave with me, but we can’t go back, only forward. You’re not a bad person, you just made some bad choices, and I hope that one day you’re able to forgive yourself and see the great man I know you are.”
You might think my anticipation or anxiety would be on high, but to be compleltely honest, I was calm and at peace. When I did hear from him, he said he didn’t deserve my forgiveness, and he’ll always feel responsible for our decisions, but he hopes to find the forgiveness and greatness I have one day.
Forgiveness is hard, and messy, and takes years, and don't let anyone tell you it’s easy, because they’re lying. Just because you forgive doesn’t mean you forget. I’ll never forget the life that was lost that day and all the lives that were affected by one bad decision. I’ll forever be regretful. So here I am, in my room, surrounded by all the things that have the audacity to bring me happiness instead of pain, telling you how I found forgiveness. I hope you're able to find it one day for someone you thought you never could.
Painting by Gwynne Duncan