I’ve caught myself talking about you several times this summer. I’ve told stories about your strength, like when life smacked you around and death took your loved ones, but you got back up again, different. Stronger. I’ve alluded to the valuable lesson you taught me when you showed me a picture of yourself from when you were in high school. “Crazy hair, huh?” That’s what you said but what you didn’t say was that you loved yourself anyway, even though your hair looked like Kristy McNichol got in a fight with a weed whacker and you carried those extra pounds that “didn’t help” when you wanted a date to prom. You didn’t say it, but I’d heard you loving the young you in that picture and you taught that to me.
It feels good to change the narrative. To have rounded the bend of resentment and hurt and to have arrived at some place new where the good stuff gets to be just as big as the stuff that tore us apart.
I found pictures of us as I was packing up the house. And letters and notes and emails I inexplicably printed out and saved. (Guess I didn’t understand the “mailbox” function of email.) “Who’s that?” my kids asked. I told them the truth. “And old friend Mommy hasn’t seen in a long time.” They’ve never experienced the complexity of friendships that stop and start, come and go. I didn’t give them details. Who knows? By the time they are old enough to ask where you, the woman in the picture, went, I may have more answers. Maybe they will know you by then. Perhaps not.
But I’m telling the good stories, those pieces of our relationship where the sun was shining on both of our faces. It’s so healing to remember us in this light and take stock of all the gifts I received being a part of our relationship.
This. This sweet and peaceful feeling of gratitude and wholeness. This is the gift of forgiveness.