A little lesson on forgiveness

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Taylor Turgeon, Staff Writer

It didn’t hit me until December 3rd. It didn’t sink in until it was too late. I thought I would never forgive myself for not saying goodbye.

As my high school career comes to a close, a lot of things have happened in such a short amount of time. Whether or not I’m ready for it, change is happening quickly, and I’ve learned a lot about it in the past few months. I’ve learned that some people’s minds can change faster than the Maine weather. I’ve learned that a simple “thank you” goes a long way. I’ve learned that prom costs waaaay too much money. But most importantly, I’ve learned that forgiveness is important in the process of smooth changes and transitions, and that’s what this month’s column is all about: forgiveness.  

Sometimes forgiving yourself or others seems more impossible than licking your own elbow or learning indefinite integrals in calculus (let me tell you, that stuff is hard). But forgiveness is crucial in every stage of life and especially in transition. Nobody wants the pain of the past or the baggage from last month’s trip with them through their next phase– no matter what phase they’re in or going to. So, create a clean slate for yourself. Patch up the wounds; unpack your bags, and start forgiving. Life isn’t meant for holding grudges, on other people or yourself.

Last fall, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer just a few days after she and my grandfather moved to Florida. It all happened so fast. One day, she was fine. The next, she was 20 pounds lighter and pale as pale could be. Her immune system couldn’t keep up, and within months, she was placed in a hospice center. It killed me that I wasn’t able to see her. One thousand four-hundred and thirty miles stood in the way of my last goodbye.

My mom, of course, kept in touch with her almost everyday. But me? I only exchanged a few texts here and there. I honestly didn’t think I could compose myself for even a quick phone call. And I hated myself for that when I saw her lifeless body lying in bed not even an hour after she passed. Although I planned my goodbye on the plane, when it finally landed in Florida, it was already too late.

To this day, it kills me to think that I never gave her a proper goodbye. But, over the past few months, I’ve slowly started to forgive myself. Although I don’t think I’ll ever completely forgive myself, I’ve learned that in order to move on from the pain, I need to let go of the weight I put on myself. I’ve learned that it’s not fair to me or my grandmother’s memory to carry that weight around with me.

While forgiving yourself seems to come with more difficulty, forgiving others is just as important. In regards to others, I think it’s important to note that forgiveness doesn’t always mean friendship. Forgiving only requires that we stop feeling angry or resentful, not that we start feeling pleased and amiable. I mean, if it works out that way, great. If it doesn’t, don’t force it. But while some things are worth the hostility, don’t let bitterness get in the way of your happiness. Don’t waste your life caring about what other people do with theirs.

Nevertheless, I’ve since gotten over my grudges (well, most of them). I’ll admit, it hasn’t been easy, and I won’t lie, it’s not going to be easy for you either. But in order to rid your mind of toxic feelings, you must at least try to stop feeling sorry for yourself; you must try to forgive those who wronged you, forgive those who made you angry, and even forgive those who didn’t ask for forgiveness in the first place. Forgive anyway. Forgive, forgive, forgive until you can’t anymore, and see how much lighter you’ll feel. Trust me, coming from a girl that lost her grandmother without hearing her voice or hugging her frail body for the last time, forgiveness is one step closer to complete happiness.