Sometimes forgiveness comes like a brief moment of grace out of the blue, unplanned, like an accident that changes you for the rest of your life.
A couple weeks ago my mother shared with me a memory of 4-year old me. I couldn’t help but to see the part of me, my essence, that had always been there. The part of me that had not been changed, though maybe eclipsed, by the expectations, criticisms and judgments of the world. As she told me the story, I could feel that little girl inside of me, and the feeling of freedom and fearlessness she (I) felt that night. I wondered what it might be like to live in my adult body in that same carefree way without the constant weight of feeling self-conscious. What would it be like to become that little girl before I learned to fear people, to judge others, to have prejudice, to feel shame and mistrust. All the shit one learns and consumes along the way of trying to be accepted in order to feel worthy.
The next day, I texted my mom to thank her for telling me that anecdote. I told her I too had an image of her when she was a little girl – one that my grandmother, my mom’s mom, had illustrated for me years before. My grandmother was a farm worker and would often take her children with her to the fields. On this specific occasion, they were picking strawberries. My grandmother was busy filling the crates, and all of a sudden, she looked over and saw my mom sitting next to a stack of crates, strawberries smeared all over her face as she was stuffing more in her mouth, and her shirt was stained with all the strawberry juice dripping from her face.
I told my mother that I also wished for her to remember the essence of that little girl she once was before the world had hurt her. As I wrote those words, I began to sob. In an instant, all that I knew about the abuse, abandonment and pain she had suffered rushed into my awareness, and all I wanted in that moment was for her to heal – to move through life with the joy and reckless abandonment she had eaten those strawberries that day so long ago.
And just like that, whatever was left for me to forgive her for, lifted up from inside of me. Most of my life, I have seen her through the lens of my pain. But for the first time, I saw her innocence before it was tainted by the world, and finally was able to see her.