Today was a good but melancholy day, littered with feelings of remorse, loss, connection, love, healing and harmony.
A little over two years ago I lost a friend, for this article I will call him Henry. It was sudden and I didn’t know that he was even ill. He died at the age of 41 due to his health conditions. I never bothered to find out the specific cause. It was tragic because of how young he was and how much he had to offer to the world and all those close to him.
I suffered even more so, I thought, because when he passed we were not on speaking terms. We had had a falling out, causing a splintering of our friendship. In the years following our fallout, I had taken for granted that we would run into each other accidentally. While being somewhere face to face, I had the grand plan of patching up our friendship and sorting through the words and actions that caused the rift. Now I am never able to face him like I had planned to do in those years.
Since his passing, I have been living with the guilt of knowing we never patched things up. It has weighed on me because he did mean something to me and was an important person in my life. In the past few months, I took the opportunity to bring healing to the situation and had planned out how I would help bring closure to the situation with the help of a few friends.
In my mind, I have looked back and reflected on our friendship and remembered his character. I wondered, what would he need or want from me? I can’t ask him and I don’t know. But what my friend helped me do was figure out that I would need to write him a letter and apologize for my part in breaking our friendship up.
It was a bit harder than I expected. I wrote about being hesitant to attend his memorial service. In fact, I stayed up the entire night before, chain-smoking, wondering if everyone there would wonder why I had the audacity to show up, not being present in the most recent years of his life. The worst was thinking his parents would be upset by my presence. It was tough for me in the moment leading up to attending. It was a mutual friend of ours that convinced me to attend, and that Henry would want me to be there. While writing about attending, I wrote about how I cried and missed him dearly. And while writing about that, I started crying. It was through writing this letter, I was able remember and feel the truth about my sincere apology for my past behavior and how much I did miss him. I loved him as my brother and always will.
My friend told me to take the letter and do what felt right with it. Burn it, release it to the ocean, read it to someone or whatever it was that would release my apology in the most right way. I had finished writing the letter and was thinking about what I should do with it. I thought about the mutual friend, Joe, who had convinced me to attend the memorial and how it would help me to read it to him. I phoned him up and brought up the letter. He handled the situation beautifully and I couldn’t of asked for a better outcome. I read it to him and we talked some more about it. I cried again, still feeling tender. Later on in our conversation, he told me it was his birthday he next day and invited me to his plans to go to the beach. I accepted the invite and met up with him today.
We spent a lovely day at the beach. The conditions were perfect, not too hot or too cold. It was just relaxing under a sun shelter in our chairs. We talked about that certain beach location and how many times we’d been there. Incidentally, the last time I was there was for Henry’s birthday party five years ago. I had tucked the letter I wrote to him in my purse, wondering if I should throw it out to sea. It felt like a good place to do it, having memories of being with him here. Joe said that it sounded like a good idea and would walk with me to the water to release it before we packed up to leave.
We walked up to the ocean waves and watched the surf come in and go out. There was discussion about putting rocks or sand in the envelope to sink it down or put it in a bottle to float out. I didn’t want to pollute the ocean with more floating particles than it already has and felt that just releasing it might do the trick. So as I watched the waves come in and go out, I timed the release of the letter so that it would get carried away with the waves. Joe and I watched to see if it would bob back up but alas it was final. Henry had retrieved the letter and I have let go.
My lesson from all of this is to be careful with my words. Mindful of the ways I treat others and to not waste time trying to seek forgiveness. I want to honor the memory of my friend by always treating others with love and acceptance as he always had for all of us. We have one life we live, let’s live and love to our fullest extent.