This story is chapter 8 in 360 Degrees of Grief.
My mother consumed her sixty-nine years of life with vitality and love. She loved family, friends, and strangers. An outing often ended with my mother bringing home a stranger in need of a meal, companionship, or encouragement. Relationships were important to her.
My mother lived her life out loud. Sometimes she spoke too soon, said too much and occasionally caused friction in her relationships. She was normally quick to say she was sorry. On rare occasions she would stick to her guns about being right. On her deathbed she was determined to make all the things right which she felt she had gotten wrong. She spoke to each loved one individually at the hospital. Our conversations created peace, erased burdens, and lifted spirits.
When we arrived to my parents’ home for hospice care she felt there was one more wrong to right. She and a neighbor friend had experienced a falling out. It was vital to my mother they speak. She sent me over to the neighbor’s house to ask her to come over. When the neighbor didn’t answer her door, my mother sent me back with a note to leave.
This wrong she needed to make right was at the front of her mind until her tearful neighbor showed up at the door. Suddenly in the face of my mother’s final moments, both were ready to lay down their argument, give and receive apologies, and pick up their friendship where they dropped it. They spoke privately. I never heard what was said. A few days later I saw the tear-streaked face of the neighbor at my mother’s funeral. I could see she had been set free from their former feud. Unforgiveness had separated two friends and robbed them of precious time to enjoy each other. Forgiveness set them both free.
Life gives us countless opportunities to ask for forgiveness as well as to forgive others. The opportunity to right wrongs on our deathbed is not the ordained future for all of us. We all have the present. We have this moment to take inventory of our lives and right any wrongs.
We can say “I am sorry” even if there is no guarantee of forgiveness.
We can say “I forgive you” even if there is no hope of an apology.
We can celebrate life and experience the gift of freedom found through forgiveness.