A month later, I get a phone call.
“Hi Chris. I was hoping a could get a couple minutes of your time and then I’ll let you go.”
“I wanted to say I’m sorry for what I said to you when I was there. I’ve never meant to hurt you now or in the past and I just want to ask your forgiveness and then, it’s up to you what you do with it. “
“Well, I appreciate your calling and saying that and I can forgive you for what you said, but I …I can’t forget it. It was very hurtful.”
“Well, I understand that. I just wanted to have the opportunity to say that and ask for your forgiveness.”
“OK, thank you.”
…and that was it. As I’m sure we all do with these things, I’ve run the tape through my head dozens of times looking for nuances or meaning that probably aren’t there. But regardless, even if I just take what she said, I’m left with a feeling of, “That’s it? You tell me I’m a horrible father and husband and all you ask for is my forgiveness?”
It’s as if she called and said what she did because she felt her spirituality required it of her; not because in her heart she knew she’d said some hateful and hurtful things and wanted to make it right.
And as my wife pointed out, now, if I never “fix” things, it’s on me. She can go off and tell everyone that she tried and I didn’t want to hear it and that I just don’t want anything to do with her. She’s assuaged her conscience and anything from here on out is on me.
So be it. I can live that. Outside of her and her husband, the only contact I ever have with her family is when we’re all physically in the same spot. I send them all Christmas cards, and never get them back. I respond to their posts on FB, and never get any in return. I wonder what the loss would really be.
Someone asked me, “What are you going to do?” and I really don’t know. Truthfully, there is a part of me that is relieved it’s over—which makes me look even further. Have I been keeping up this relationship because I want or need it, or just because I feel a responsibility to her and to my kids to keep her in my life. A little of both I hope, but more of the latter I think.
I’ve known other people who have gone through things like this and I’ve often wondered what happened that is so unforgivable. I mean, they’re family right? What could someone from your family ever do or say that’s so bad. Now I know. Doesn’t mean I understand it any better, but at least I have context.
I’m going to take this on my timeline. I’m going to let this rest through the holiday; not because I’m being mean or holding a grudge, but because I don’t want to deal with whatever happens. Even if all were forgiven tomorrow, the holidays would still be tense. Just not worth it.
Ultimately, maybe that’s the answer I’ve been looking for.