My Personal Bastille Day!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Forgive and Forget?.”

It was my last year in college (1993) and we were trying to figure out what the nest step was going to be.  Those couple of years had been interesting from many different perspectives, but where to take out relationship was the topic at hand.  Our best friends had gotten married at the beginning of the semester and we figured that would be the next logical step.  So out to buy the ring I went, took the aforementioned recently married groom and shelled out more than a college kid should have.  The nice dinner, flowers and there we were, engaged.

But then I finished college a semester early and went out into the workplace.  Hours where I was not around and felt guilty because we no longer had those dinners most nights, or even a random lunch if time allowed.  So being dumb, oh so dumb, I asked my best friend to pick up the slack.  Hey I know you’re not seeing anyone and you get along really well.  I’ll even pay for food.  Could you just make the time where I can’t?  [yes, engagement ends.  Friendship ends.  Lots of hurt feelings.]

It was an ugly breakup for our friends.  They didn’t know who to invite to something and who stayed home.  I was working, so I didn’t care all that much.  Told them not to choose, the thought really was all that matter.  But damn was I angry with the guy.  He never spoke to me again.  I wasn’t mad with the former fiancee, I knew in time that we just got engaged for the wrong reasons.  I loved her, but that semester apart showed that we were never going to work.  Different plans, different needs started popping up.  She hung around for a little while, we talked to the parents ab out what was happening, at least the broad strokes.  It took me years to understand what a gift that truly was.  [especially compared to someone who just sends a text message and walks!]

But what to do about the guy?  Years passed, literally 20 years have passed and only one thing got me to make even the slightest effort.  Grief Counselling, and learning how to deal with my anger.  It wasn’t that I even thought about it much, I would joke about the anniversary of our ending the relationship as my personal Bastille Day [July 14th in my case].  It was gallows humor about something painful, but long in the past.  But I needed to write a letter saying, Hey I was wrong in the way I handled talking to and about my former best friend.  I should have taken the high ground and just let you guys be.

It was hard to explain why I was writing it.  They wouldn’t have known about my daughter’s death, it not like when you send out birth announcements.  But I wrote about how I needed to be a better person for my daughter.  Even if she wasn’t around anymore, that promise needed to be kept.  I never wanted my daughter to hear some story abut her father from years long since passed and be ashamed of how I handled things.  I always knew she would resent me for something at some point in her life, but this wasn’t going to be it!  That meant opening myself up more pain, hoping it would help heal me.

I sent the letter back in March and haven’t heard anything, which is okay.  I wouldn’t expect to.  There’s really nothing left to be said, no reason for us to start talking again.  In the 20 years, they married each other and had several children of their own.  I’m happy for them.  But a little part of me wished they had acknowledged in some small way my letter.  It’s silly, but writing that letter took some effort.

I forgave them years ago, but I needed to acknowledge that in my own way.  It’s the reason why, even though I have a litany of reasons for being upset with my former mother-in-law, I never have said a nasty thing about her to anyone.  She definitely crossed a line she shouldn’t have.  But I still loved her because she was family.  [great, now I’m hoping she is doing well.  I guess I still love her, too.  Damnit!]