“Can you come and see me?” said his ex-girlfriend over the phone months after they went through a bitter and hurtful breakup.
“And why would I want to do that?” said the scorned male, passively refusing the invitation.
“Because I’m dying and I just want to see you one last time.”
This was the dilemma that my friend was presented with just a few days ago. He thought he had pushed the pain of this bad relationship aside months ago only for it to infiltrate his mind again when he answered his cell phone.
Can you forgive and forget?
His ex wanted his forgiveness. She had ruined their relationship and during the course of the break-up informed my friend that she not only never loved him but also dated him only so another woman wouldn’t claim his affections.
“I’m a cold-hearted bitch,” she said with a wry, remorseless smile when he asked how she could do something like that.
She sabotaged many other friendships as well, ending up a scared and alienated woman—a sharp contrast from the cunning shrew she was known as in earlier years.
And now my friend was caught in the balance between mercy and hatred. Forgiving this woman would take a lot and even taking the step towards seeing her again was sure to open all the old wounds she had inflicted. He spoke of “letting her stew in her own venom,” but was still uncomfortable with letting her rot away.
Plenty of time?
But the moment
gave me pause because I don’t hear the life-clock ticking for me. With each decision I make I don’t have to think about whether it will be my final one. When I hurt someone, even intentionally, I have time on my side. I do not know the hour of my death, but I sense that it is not so imminent. In my final days I hope to look back in my sage old age and simply rest, content with what I have made, not hoping for more.
And here was a woman dying young, with an opportunity for a million things to do before she dies.
And she chooses to ask for forgiveness.
What will my deathbed wish be? Will I have doubts or
many moments of regret? Will I have lived a good life? Will I think about heaven and hell or the dread of purgatory? Will I have taken care of family? Will I be troubled or peaceful? Is there anybody or any place that I’ll want to see for the first time or for one last time?
All good questions, to be sure…but where do these questions leave me now? The fact remains that with each lived day, I also die a bit as well. My life may unexpectedly be taken from me, a possibility that I don’t often like to entertain. In a world that encourages us to live in the moment, to “just do it,” to have “no fear,” how do I avoid regret knowing that my time is after all, limited?
There are no guarantees. As an imperfect human being, God knows, I’ve done some pretty hurtful things in my life. And I continue to hold grudges from time to time:
College friend: “So why don’t you talk to Nestor anymore?”
Mike: “I really don’t remember.”
College Friend: “My friend that makes you King o’ the Grudge-holders.”
The best I can hope for is courage. I need to be aware of my shitty-ness, to be aware of the times when someone has been hurt by my actions. Moreover, I need to be fearless in seeking forgiveness of others and to, in turn, forgive those who trespass against me.
God knows that I’m going to make mistakes along the way. I also know (although I’m not particularly happy about this) that one day I will die. Perhaps the best I can do is to forgive myself for my own mistakes and trust that God’s forgiveness will be more than enough for both me and what I can’t fix.
A final request
As for my friend, he visited
his ex. She cried as she asked
for his forgiveness, and while my friend wasn’t able to say the words “I forgive you,” he was able to give her his new phone number in case she needed to talk…something he never thought he’d be able to do. He also found out that he was her only visitor, that her family hadn’t even come to see her. She obviously has made a lot of enemies, but my friend turned away from divisions and reached into his heart, even at a painful expense, to give a dying woman her last request: a peaceful death.