My mother would have turned 72 today. She consumed her 69 years of life with vitality and love. She loved her family, friends and strangers. An outing often ended with my mother bringing a stranger in need of a meal, companionship or encouragement home with her. Relationships with people, whether friend, family, foe or stranger 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, but on rare occasions she would stick to her guns about being right. On her deathbed she was determined to make all things right that she felt she got wrong. She spoke one on one to each of us at the hospital, but when we arrived to my parent’s home for hospice care she felt she had one more wrong to right.
Sometime in the recent past she and one of her neighbor friends had had a falling out. My mother sent me over to the neighbor’s house to tell her my mother was dying and ask her to come over. It was vital to my mother that they speak. When the neighbor didn’t answer her door my mother sent me back with a note asking her to come over to speak with my mother.
This wrong she hadn’t righted was at the front of my mother’s mind until her tearful neighbor showed up at her door. Suddenly in the face of my mother’s final moments both of them were ready to lay down their argument, give and receive apologies, and pick up their friendship where they had dropped it. They spoke privately. I never heard what was said, but a few days later when I saw the tear streaked face of the neighbor at my mother’s funeral I could see that she had been totally set free from the weight of their former feud by whatever words had passed between them.
Unforgiveness had separated these two friends, robbed them of precious time and hurt them both. Forgiveness set them both free. They were both thankful for the opportunity to make things right between them.
Life gives us countless opportunities to forgive others and to ask for forgiveness. We don’t all have the opportunity to say goodbye over weeks, days or hours. The occasion to right wrongs on our deathbed is not in the future for all of us. In celebration of my mother’s life take a moment to take inventory of your life, right the wrongs today.
Say, “I am sorry” even if there is no guarantee of forgiveness.
Say, “I forgive you” even if there is no hope of an apology.
Experience the freedom found only in forgiveness.