The summer after my freshman year in college, I worked for the university housekeeping department, assisting a full-time employee in cleaning dorms and apartments for special guests.
Pat like to talk, and she told me all about her family. One afternoon she told me about the moment her son woke up after a coma induced by a drug overdose.
“I will never forgive you,” she told him. She promised she would never forgive him for abusing his body that way, for the pain he caused her and the family when he nearly died. According to her, he accepted her stance of unforgiveness, believing he deserved it.
At the tender age of 19, I didn’t understand how someone who called herself a Christian could refuse to forgive anyone for any reason, especially her own son.
Although I still believe forgiveness is the best remedy for heart, soul, and relationships, I have a better understanding about how complicated relationships can be, especially when it comes to life and death.
Pat’s son wasn’t thinking about his mom when he took drugs. He may have been joining in with his friends, trying to escape some kind of emotional pain, or really had a death wish. Yet when he almost killed himself, she took it personally.
People engaged in destructive behavior tend not to think about the potential consequences. It’s all about the quick fix. For every person trying to escape his or her life in an unhealthy way, there are parents, significant others, children, friends and untold others who are affected by their choices.
As I watched the growing line of people waiting to pay their final respects to a friend of mine, I wish he could have known the number of people that were touched by his life. Even though I know the shadow of depression clouded his view, I wish he could have known what a difference his gentle spirit and generosity made in the community.
Life is a precious, precious gift. Sometimes it’s hard to deal with; sometimes it’s painful. It can also be filled with love and joy and boundless opportunities to bring these things to the lives of others. When life seems unbearable, the best remedy may be to help someone else, and know you make a difference in their world.