Some offensives I still carry even years after the one I offended forgave me. Maybe that weight subconsciously helps me avoid making similar mistakes? Maybe I haven’t forgiven myself for these transgressions? Maybe that’s the sting of ego’s pride against my intentions of living a good and decent life? How about those we’ve wronged that we can’t reach out to again and ask for forgiveness? Can we assume through symbolism that they’ve finally forgiven us?
I’ve hurt many people.
Some, maybe at the time, deserved it. Some, accidentally. Most people I’ve hurt were victims of my own stupidity. Either because of misunderstanding, miscommunication, or a moment of weakness. One memory that will probably never stop hurting involves my childhood dog Patrick. His back failed on him and his health rapidly declined. In one of my weakest moments, instead of figuring out how to help him or who could help me bring him back inside, I left him outside overnight. He wasn’t an outdoor dog.
He didn’t deserve that.
It’s a sting that will never go away because despite my ignorance, there was a level of inconsideration involved. I was inside chatting with some friends in a chatroom for part of the evening. I could have asked any one of them. I had also yelled in frustration when I couldn’t figure out how to help Patrick. That wasn’t something he deserved. He was in pain and instead of giving him respect, I lashed out in my own pain. Not at him, but it might as well have been. He ended up being with us for a few more days.
But still, he didn’t deserve any of that.
We ended up putting him down a few days later. That was in March 2005. He’s been gone longer than he was around. I was in college at the time, so supposedly educated, but not really. Even now in my 30s I’m feeling like I’m only now just starting to learn about the world. So it’s easy to excuse that transgression as a moment of weakness from my younger self. Perhaps I haven’t yet forgiven myself because despite my countless apologies to Patrick, I haven’t truly registered that I can forgive myself.
Patrick wouldn’t want me holding that weight.
Patrick would want to go play outside. He’d want me to either throw him a squeaky toy to fetch or treat to catch. A slice of meat would be better. He’d want a soft pat on the head and he wouldn’t mind a poke on the nose. He’d want me to hang out with him for a few more minutes. That’s what he’d want: positive, happy moments over focusing on a mistake. In his honor for St. Patrick’s Day, his namesake, I went to a dog park. The sun flared up as I stood in a memorial part of the park. Maybe it was Patrick forgiving me?
That’s what I’d like to think, anyways.
Maybe it’s time to accept forgiveness for this, and other, past mistakes?
Inspirations: Thematically, a part two to “How To Forget.”
Picture: Marymoor Park Pet Memorial Garden when the sun flared.