Exactly one week ago today, we watched with pride as our youngest son walked across the stage to receive his High School diploma. It was yet another milestone that I prayed we would all get to witness. It was a day of hope and promise….the first step in this new chapter of his life. It also put us one step closer to the closing of this child-rearing chapter in our lives, one that is ending all too quickly.
In the last several years, there has been a great deal of disparity in the experiences of our sons. While our oldest son has to watch and worry from afar (which is extremely stressful in it’s own right), our youngest has been a daily witness to all the maintenance, symptoms and repercussions of dealing with this illness. Unfortunately, this is not the only way he has been impacted.
When our oldest son was still at home, we were in a much better position financially to help him accomplish some amazing dreams. It was easy for us to support him in these endeavors because we knew he was meant to do these things. For instance, one January day, he took a discovery flight on a Cessna airplane at the local Flight School. According to my husband, when he stepped out of the aircraft after being allowed to assist in the flight, he had a look on his face that confirmed it: this was something he was born to do. We knew we must help him achieve this. He did his part by working to help pay for flight lessons, and was even able to eventually get a job at the Flight School….employee discount!!! At the tender age of 18, he received his pilot’s license.
So one day a few months ago, I was talking to our youngest about things in general, including things we were not able to help him do. It was a difficult conversation to have, because like parents everywhere, we have always wanted to treat them both the same. It is a tall order for two different people, but what we have done for one, we fully expected to do for the other….or the equivalent, based on their interests.
We did help them both do a few similar things…they were both able to accomplish an amazing hike of over a hundred miles through the mountains in New Mexico on the Philmont Scout Ranch, which is a pretty big deal. However, we knew that there would be some things we wouldn’t be able to provide as much support for, like attending college, the way we did for our oldest.
As we began our conversation, my voice quivered as I felt the pain of the unfairness to our baby son. He stopped me abruptly. “It’s ok, Mom…all of this has made me a better person. I appreciate things so much more. You do not need to apologize!”
I was astounded at his insight, and thought about the power of forgiveness….how this simple act released me from the chains of my own guilt and how I could use it as well to free others.
I thought of those I may still be harboring a grudge against. What causes me to refuse the gift of forgiveness to others, when that day I craved the forgiveness of my son more than anything? What if I could feel the pain of someone who is asking for forgiveness…the pain they must feel at having wronged me. At the depths of their soul, all that matters are the precious words, “I forgive you.” Since we cannot reach back into the past and change anything, why not let it go? Why not free it from my soul and consciousness, so that I may allow room for something more positive?
The bonus is that the person receiving the forgiveness now sees us in a different light, maybe with a new-found respect.
Just like I now view my son. My incredibly smart, kind and grounded young man.
He will do just fine.