TO FORGIVE IS TO LIVE
It wasn't long ago my dear wife came into my basement office and handed me a sealed envelope. It was another breadcrumb left behind by our tender son that had been sitting in a small stack of papers waiting to be organized. On the front of the envelope was Mitchell’s handwriting in purple crayon addressed to his best friend Luke. As my wife gestured me to open it, my hands trembled a little. Actually, they trembled a lot. This undelivered letter was from Mitchie’s last real birthday (April 29th 2012).
As I opened the envelope and then the carefully folded paper, I felt that all-too-familiar lump in my throat begin to grow. Swallowing suddenly became difficult and the air became as thin as Jupiter's. The last person to touch that paper was my dear son – and my fingers trembled with grief. Mitchell’s sweet letter read, “Dear Luke, I am so sorry. Will you still be my friend? I really want to play with you. :-) I really want you to come to my birthday party this Friday.”
Beneath the hand written letter were balloons for those he invited or near to his mind. Included were his brothers and sister, and Derik and David (two young boys who live just down the street). Floating above the other balloons were two; one for Mitch and another for Luke – as if to symbolize their special friendship and olive branch. As if his carefully drawn artwork weren't enough, Mitch re-traced his letters with different colors to show that he really cared. I love children.
Mitch and Luke almost always got along, but because they were human they also had disagreements from time-to-time. Clearly, this was one of those moments. A childhood indiscretion was noted, a soft petition for forgiveness was made … and my heart swelled to see the innocence of children on display.
In the grand scheme of things their disagreement was hardly a speed bump … but to Mitch, a young boy who treasured his relationships, it was a mogul turned mountain and he wanted to make it right. Luke, was ever the faithful, forgiving friend to Mitch and they always seemed to bounce back quickly if there was ever a disagreement on either side.
I’ll never forget when Luke stood at the foot of Mitchell’s bed the evening before he passed away to say goodbye and share how much he loved him. That was a moment that brought me to my knees and broke my soul into smithereens. Never had I seen a more powerful gesture of brotherly love among humans. I pray that I never have to see such a sight again.
I admire the absolute goodness of children. If only adults could be as grown up as our little ones are at times. Emma Goldman wrote, "No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure." At least to me, this handwritten note from my son (a letter that could have been written by any one of your children), is a master class in what it means to be human. Mitch and Luke taught me through crayon and pencil that to forgive is to truly live.
Any more, it seems the older I get the more I find myself trying to unlearn what the world has taught me and re-learn what children demonstrate so naturally.