more forgiveness

On a recent rainy day I watched a film about forgiveness. Exiting the theater into blinding sunlight, I saw things anew. I saw how the clear skies forgave more than a days' worth of rain, how the wilting rhododendron flowers laced with rotting brown forgave the rain, too. Evergreen bows hung low forgiving the coat of droplets burdening them, then they forgave my sheers for cutting into their flesh hoping to spawn new growth.

A carpet of soft green forgave the heels of my boots, which sunk into its moistness. I forgave myself for lopping down the slightly sickly crabapple in exchange for a long view of the garden and the deep sigh of relief that spaciousness can offer.

The Cannabis Man came by and I forgave his long absence with a hug and a visit to the garden where the mosquitoes lunched on our flesh. But we forgave them because it was worth risking their bite to breathe the sweet vanilla scent of white azalea blossoms splotched with yellow, to see the delicate tips of iris and swelling peony bobbles.

Later, I forgave Calvin for pulling the hair at the nape of my neck, and he I, for the string of bitter words I pitched his way. I forgave him for his poor balance and for his intermittent lunacy, and he I, for my neglect.

I forgave the psychotic chipmunk chirping ad nauseam from one corner of the garden, and the crow for fouling the birdbath with the mushy white bread it gets from an unknown neighbor.

In hindsight, I forgave the bits of soggy movie popcorn because it was drizzled in real butter and tasted delicious. I forgave the drivers—all of them—the slow, the erratic, the ones who don't signal or allow me to merge. I forgave the man in line in front of me at the grocer who wrote a check in the EXPRESS lane.

And the earth forgave the darkened skies, its tender green spears thrust upwards like the necks of chicks to their mother. I forgave the bottle of bourbon holding barely a drop in its base. I forgave myself the cheese quesadilla for its burnt underside and the avocado for its brown spots.

I learned recently that Calvin's exome sequence came back absent of any genetic mutation that might explain his condition, which leads a mother like me to wonder what happened—what I might have done—to contribute to his demise. It could have been one of any number of things—those sips of wine or morsels of goat cheese, those swim workouts, the chlorine, the wall paint, the respirator. I can't know, and Michael insists it was nothing I did. But I must find a way to forgive myself, even if there is nothing to forgive.


  1. The miracle of nature is that our complicated bodies work as often and as well as they do. There's nothing to forgive yourself for. But it's hard to forgive the universe for all the chaos and randomness that can lead to disease and disability. We want it all to be logical and predictable and to have meaning. But sometimes, shit just happens. If you knew the cause of Calvin's developmental problems it would just hurt differently. Whatever it was, it was an accident. One of the leaves on the vine absorbed the wrong bit of sunlight and the flower bloomed before the proper season. It seems a tragic waste, but your response has been to find beauty when and where you can. That's another miracle, this time of the human spirit.

  2. I have come to believe that there has to be some purposefulness to something we have done in order for us to need to ask forgiveness. The things we did while we were pregnant were either done out of lack of knowledge they might have an effect -- usually completely "off our radar" -- or doing the best we could do at the time. This helps me tremendously… when I ask myself if I "did anything on purpose"? Or if I was brazenly irresponsible with how I cared for myself? The answer is no. If I had possibly known that my child would have the problems she has, I would have done ANYTHING to do things differently. So this helps me when guilt comes crawling back in...

    1. I just re-read. I wanted to add that I truly don't think you or I did anything at all. It just happens.