To Forgive And Forget – Easier Said Than Done
When someone asks for forgiveness, who actually benefits? According to Merriam-Webster, to forgive is to give up resentment of or claim to requital for an insult. To cease to feel resentment against an offender.
I would imagine that the forgivee would potentially have a clear conscience, but what about the one who does the forgiving? Can they really, truly “cease to feel resentment?”
I had to answer that question, or at least explore it, almost 18 years ago.
For the ten years prior to 1994, I had chosen to maintain a very large distance from my mother. If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember how she turned her back on me when I needed her, how she violated my privacy and betrayed me when I was in high school. I held a lot of resentment over those incidents, along with a few others, and just needed to stay away. I grew comfortable in my self-imposed no-fly zone, knowing she was still out there, but unable to hurt me any longer. I was able to say I didn’t care anymore and that I didn’t need her. She had taught me to be self-sufficient because I had no one else to turn to while growing up. Yeah, I was tough.
Until the phone call.
She put an end to the silence to tell me she was just diagnosed with cancer. The doctors were giving her 18 months to live. For me, that meant I had 18 months to figure this whole resentment thing out.
It took me awhile to shuffle around my value and priority system, but by that time she found the doctors had miscalculated her life expectancy. Eighteen months now shrunk down to four. With hardly any time left, I put my feelings aside and visited her as much as I could. In the end I stayed with her 24/7, shooting her up with morphine every two hours, until at 5:00 p.m. on Easter Sunday afternoon in 1994, she finally let go.
I thought a lot about forgiveness during those weeks and if I was capable of it. Whether or not she looked for my forgiveness, I’ll never know, because hashing over the past seemed pointless when the moments of the future were dwindling.
Now, almost two decades later, I find the resentment still holds, though it has dulled to a whisper. I haven’t thought too much about the reasons behind it, because it is what it is, and I’ve moved on. Yeah, I’m tough.
Until the phone call.
My aunt called last night to tell me my father was taken to the hospital. He has had some health issues he refuses to take care of, and though he was admitted for a urinary tract infection, I can’t help but remember a urinary tract infection was what my grandfather had been admitted for 18 years ago, and he never came home (he died two days before my mother…ugh).
With what my father put me through, will I be able to face him again? Will I sit at his side as I did my mother and hold his hand? Though I’ve matured enough to let that resentment go, I’m not certain I’d go so far as to forgive him. Surprisingly, twenty-five years of separation still hasn’t made me feel clean enough to be in the same room with him.
But I guess I’ll never know if my mind will change as it did with my mother until I’m forced to make a choice. And knowing me the way I do, *big sigh,* I’d better start putting away for a ticket to Arizona.
How about you? Are you quick to forgive? Is it any easier to forgive someone near and dear to you as opposed to someone not so close? And in your heart, do you truly forgive? Please, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Posted on September 20, 2011, in Family, Friendships, Human, Relationships and tagged cancer, Diana Murdock, Diana Murdock's blog, forgiveness, illness, resentment. Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.