“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” – William Blake
Everyone is capable of redemption. I heard these words today while listening to “Writer on the Road.” Amen. I don’t mean it in a religious sense, however. Maybe “being forgiven” is the better expression. Forgiveness seems to be what I’ve struggled with most during this project.
People have continually asked me to provide the “why” for my attempt to get Patty’s file dusted off. Especially after they hear that I felt betrayed by her. I want to tell them it’s because it’s my way of forgiving her. But I assume they wouldn’t understand. If they did, they wouldn’t ask in the first place.
Recently, I was thinking about the potential audience for the book (should it ever see daylight). And then I attended a writer’s event during which two memoir writers stressed the importance of making your story universal. I have trouble identifying what might be universal in my story. The concept of betrayal? Haven’t we all been wronged by a friend, or done wrong by a friend? Maybe not. But a lot of us have. And haven’t those very same people struggled with either forgiving the betrayer or forgiving themselves for betraying someone else? That’s all I can come up with.
It’s tricky business mulling over how to forgive someone who’s passed away. But, again, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. Not everyone relives the past. Some, like me, do. I’m here to tell you it’s easier to forgive people once they’re gone. Somehow, either with the passage of time, or the passing of the person, you become more empathetic. Or once you grow older, you’re capable of more nuanced thinking. And that is essential to forgiveness. I’ve been accused of being a “black and white” thinker, but I long to see the world in shades of gray. That is what I’m after in this project: the shades of gray.
Just like Detective Cunningham said the last time we spoke. He believed that the perpetrator was not a stranger. He also believed in redemption:
“…apparently she might have messed with the wrong person. And that doesn’t make her a bad person overall. She never got a chance to redeem herself. Because this person took it into his own hands to take her life away.”
I know Patty would have redeemed herself given a chance. She was a good person. She was a complicated person like most of us. She made bad choices like most of us. Still, she deserved to be forgiven. He had a big heart. Her big-heartedness shouldn’t get lost in the story.