Day 3 – Something you have to forgive yourself for.
I’m not going to pick a character flaw I believe I have or a trait I have no control over bearing. I’ve narrowed it down to one, single, solitary moment in time. A decision I made when I was no more than 15 years old. The thing I have to forgive myself for is a perfect example of the butterfly effect. A decision so seemingly small can accordion and expand and collapse and become life-altering in its consequence. It’s something I come back to constantly in my mind. Something that weighs on me and tugs at me and makes me think about how things might have been, had I not made this one choice.
Early in high school, I was invited to one of my very best friend’s birthday party. Her and I were tight. We both played clarinet in several bands and got along like peas and carrots. We both spent time volunteering assisting those with physical and mental disabilities, although her much, much more than I. She was (and probably still is) a fantastic person. Much better than I was (and probably still am), but she was the type to push you to be better, even if only out of competition.
But around this time, I was a loyal and enthusiastic fan and supporter of our local Junior C hockey team. I held one of the only season’s tickets in existence, traveled to any away game that I could, and certainly never missed a home game. As unfortunate circumstance would have it, the final game of the season was on the very night of my friend’s party.
I chose the hockey game.
My friend was completely disappointed, I could see it on her face, when I told her that I felt like I needed to go to the game instead of her birthday party. Of course she was. But she was gracious in defeat, told me not to worry about it, and I went to the game, with nary a thought about the festivities that I should have been a part of with her.
After that, our friendship was never the same. She slowly went one way, with the friends who cared enough to chose her over meaningless sporting events, and I went the other, with people who … were not like that.
Now, I’m not here to bash those I became friends with afterwards because most had some very redeeming qualities and we had fun and, along the thought of the butterfly effect, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for the series of decisions I made back then. But it was also because of that decision – that a game was more important than my friend – that I grew apart from her and those friends like her.
I’ve thought about her many, many times in the past 12 years since high school. I found out through the grapevine that she married one of those other friends. I’m sure they make a lovely couple. I even ran into her this weekend. Just in passing, long enough to say hello, I saw that she has two children now. Two children in wheelchairs, and I’m not at all surprised. It would be just like that old friend of mine to adopt two children in need like that. She was that type of person. I can only imagine that if we had remained friends, that her goodness would have rubbed off on me. I would loved to have been that person.
I have difficulty forgiving myself for that one, tiny mistake. That mistake changed the course of my life. But there has to be forgiveness because if not for that mistake, I’m certain that I would not have ended up where I am today because all decisions, no matter how small, have the power to effect your future. It’s possible that if I hadn’t chosen the hockey game, that I wouldn’t have become friends with a completely different set of people, that I wouldn’t have dated someone who was best friends with a guy who I would later fall in love with and marry. My children would not exist, or they wouldn’t be exactly who they are today, and that? Is inconceivable.
All this spirals from one seemingly miniscule decision I, for some reason, have trouble forgiving myself for making.