A Study in Forgiveness

I’m not big on mantras. I’m more likely to think through a grocery list than I am to “still my mind” during savasana.

And forgiveness comes even less naturally to me than stillness.

I’m a doer—as opposed to a feeler. That’s what the grief counselor said.

But, recently, I’ve decided to take on forgiveness as my word.

What does it mean to take on a word? Candidly, I’m not even sure it’s a thing.

Sometimes I ask myself: If right here, right now, in this moment, I had to define myself using just one word what would it be? I know this makes me sound like the kind of person who’d be good at savasana, but don’t let my one-word, bite-sized reflections fool you. I check the check-in box and move right along to “things that need my attention.” 

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For many years, I would have told you that my word is sad.

Since the day my son died in husband’s arms because I wasn’t strong enough to be the one to physically hold him as his chest stopped rising, I have been sad.

Which isn’t to say I don’t experience other words. I experience joy, strength, resilience, love, fun, gratitude, empathy, honesty, curiosity—the list goes on.

But I’ve done so with a sad heart. And the thing is: There’s no cure for sadness.

I like to think of emotions like complementary colors. Maybe that’s because by definition, when combined correctly complementary colors create light. Sad and happy as blue and orange. Feeling down? Do something joyful and find your equilibrium. Weak and strong as yellow and purple. Feeling weak? Lift some weights and be stunned (and stunning) in your resilience.

But happiness doesn’t cure sadness, it just eclipses it for a short while.

Maybe that’s simply my experience; because sad is not, in fact, my word.

Truth be told: My word is anger. Raging, consuming, pretend-it’s-not-there-until-it-sabotages-me anger. Anger at myself, at others, and of course, at God.

For what could my son have done in 19 days on this Earth that warranted him being taken away when he had his whole, beautiful life ahead of him? Where is everyone who said they’d always be there for us. The people who are not at my door, or in my voicemail or, contributing to the one event we have to memorialize for Moses each year: They’ve moved on, which is something I literally can never do. 

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Special occasions are minefields for a person in grief. Hollywood and Hallmark shove down your throat the idea that they’re to be spent with the people you love. So, you’re inevitably doing them wrong if someone who’s love defines you is dead.

It seems only the three of us—living our lives as three members of a family of four—can possibly understand.

Aviva wants to buy Moses rain boots for his birthday tomorrow. “That way, he can go for walks in the rain with us,” she says. “Why don’t we bring them to his house?” she asks. “And then maybe he can come back to our house.”

If only, only that could be.

We are at once blue and orange and purple and yellow.

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I’ve explored sadness, and I’ve explored busyness, but for the first time I’ve decided to let myself explore forgiveness.

Maybe I could forgive God.

Maybe I could forgive the people around me who went back to their happy lives.

Maybe I could forgive myself for judging them.

Anger and forgiveness aren’t red and green: They’re not colors at all. They’re ice and scorching, blistering sunshine. As soon as you admit that anger courses through your veins as fiercely as your own blood; as soon as you say, “I want to forgive” and step into the sunshine and feel it beat down on your skin; you start to feel a little relief.

You begin the work to stop keeping score and start hoping. You stop looking back and start looking forward.

For now, I’ve decided my word is forgiveness, and that’s a start.

Read a journal of Moses’ life here: https://www.saramccord.com/moses-story/