Writing About My Father, Day 25

Someone said the other day that the fact I still have a relationship with my father shows I’ve forgiven him. Is that all forgiveness is—showing up despite the anger, despite how hollow and foreign “I forgive you” feels on your tongue? Is forgiveness, then, not a type of anesthesia? Does it have more in common with Tylenol than with morphine, the wound’s still in full bloom, you just feel it a little less? It would be better, perhaps, if forgiveness worked like amnesia, but if we are the sum total of our wounds, that is, if what we name “good” in ourselves is the same fruit as what we name “bad,” erupting from the same anger, the same grief and absence, then to want forgiveness to be amnesia is to undo not just part of but all of ourselves. What I have with my father doesn’t feel like forgiveness, but maybe I am just not wise enough to see it. I still expect to feel forgiveness, when it is a thing out of reach of the senses. Perhaps forgiveness is reading through dozens of Father’s Day cards to find the most innocuous one, that doesn’t lie but merely acknowledges. Perhaps forgiveness is thinking about what to get my father for Christmas when I know the small check I may get is neither guaranteed nor given ungrudgingly. Perhaps forgiveness is merely grace and courage—to bear the wound, to risk the hurts you know will come again.

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Posted on November 27, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. WOW! Incredible post. You write with such honesty. It is very powerful.

    Forgiveness is NOT easy. I, as many people have suffered, have been through a traumatic experience. I always wondered about how I was suppose to feel about when I actually forgave that person for what they did. It’s not like when you are a kid and you can walk up to the other kid who you pushed for a basket of legos, and she says “sorry” and you say “Ok. I forgive you. Let’s be friends again.” It seems like it has to be so much more complicated because it’s more serious now, especially as adults.

    I think courage and grace are important aspects of forgiveness for sure. That’s what I came to realize. Thanks for posting this!

    I hope you have a beautiful day!

  2. I’m not wise enough to answer the question about what forgiveness is –your post will have me thinking about that for a while –but I am at least able to recognize good writing when I see it. This.

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