I found out that a classmate of mine from High School passed away last week. I haven’t seen him since graduation some 42 years ago, but I remember him quite vividly. He was smart, funny and kind and he was the best Conrad Birdie in our adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie. His last name started with a G, mine with an H, so we shared a homeroom all through high school. He could always make me laugh which always started my day out with a smile.
He died doing the things he loved and he was surrounded by people who he loved and who loved him. I’d like to think that is some sort of comfort for all of those who were instrumental in making his life good, and for him as he left this place we call home.
His death brought home to me the fact that life is quite fleeting. You’re here one moment, and then you’re gone and I found myself pondering forgiveness. I was thinking of one high school friend in particular who was in my life for a very long time. My husband and I were quite close with this person and her husband. We traveled together, laughed together, cried together, she was like the sister I never had, so I decided to trust her with my deepest secret – that I was gay – and she betrayed that trust by telling my husband. Life as I knew it ended on that day. I never asked her why she chose to betray me in such a way; I simply walked away and never spoke to her again.
In some respects, she did me a huge favor and opened the conversation that has finally allowed me to live openly as a lesbian; however, I have never understood or forgiven her betrayal. Today I wondered if this was perhaps the moment to forgive her in my heart.
Then I started to wonder if it was this one-time friend I wanted to forgive or if perhaps I was the one who needed to be forgiven.
Our lives are lived in moments. Moments in time, moments when words are spoken that can never be taken back, moments when decisions are made and lives are changed forever. I’m not sure when the moment was exactly when I knew I was gay, I’ve just always known. It wasn’t a decision I made, in fact I made the decision to be someone else. That decision to not live the life I was meant to live for so many years is the decision that needs to be forgiven.
No one told me I had to stay in my marriage. Then again, no one told me I didn’t, including myself. I stayed because I didn’t know what else to do. My husband was a perfectly nice man, and we were friends, but I was never in love with him, and he certainly deserved more from me than he got. Yes, I understand he could have left me at any time, and I don’t know about his regrets, we never talked about it. I just know I’ve carried my regrets with me for over 40 years. This is the moment to forgive myself. He has remarried – to my cousin – and from all accounts is quite happy. Let’s just let it be.
I’m not sure when the moment was when I knew I would never, ever be what my mother wanted me to be, I just always knew there would be no grandchildren springing from my loins. I always felt I let her down that I disappointed her in some way. I wasn’t the girl next door; I was the lesbian hiding in the closet. We never discussed it just as we never discussed anything, and I was always left to wonder what my mother would have said about my being a lesbian. I know now almost 60 years into my life that it was me who harbored anger about having lived a life secluded in a little town surrounded by an unforgiving family who demanded I keep my place in the family as the “funny one.” It wasn’t my mother’s fault or my families – the blame lies with me. This is the moment to forgive myself.
I’m not sure when the moment was I decided that I should be in an abusive relationship, or how I reasoned in my mind that I could change this persons behavior, I only know I should have taken more time to think it through. I do recall the moment when I said to myself: “You’re in trouble here,” and realized that I had to find a way out. I may have realized I needed to get out, however in a moment of “I’m so sorry, I won’t do it again,” and the “I really will stop drinking” moment, I stayed. If not for a job that I loved and people who cared for me and lifted my self-esteem, and mainly – if not for Susan – I’m not exactly sure where I would be or what sort of shape I would be in. I put myself through hell but I survived and I’m better and happier and stronger than I ever dreamed possible. I need to forgive myself for falling into the “No one will ever love you” pit.
Life indeed is made up of moments – This is the moment I say ‘I forgive you’ to the image I see in the mirror, and I move on. It’s the moments of here and now that are to be lived to the fullest for in a moment, any moment – it can all be gone.