Do you know an over apologizer? Sorry, but I am one. Oh, and I am very sorry I haven’t written a post in a while. Sorry! I have been busy. Sorry, but I crawled back in bed to write this morning. I should be unloading the dishwasher and making pancakes – right? Really sorry….
But guess what, I am not sorry.
Some apologies are worth making: Sorry I was late, sorry I dropped that on your foot, sorry I misunderstood you, sorry I ate the last of the ice cream, sorry I hurt your feelings.
And then there is the other kind of sorry: I am so sorry for you loss, I am so sorry to hear you are not feeling well, I am sorry you had such a rough day, I am so sorry to hear the news.
Within moments of finding out that my husband had cancer, we looked at each other and both said I am so sorry. On the surface, I was saying I am sorry you have to go through this, and so was he – sorry I would have to go through it too. But on a deeper level, we were apologizing for all the lost moments, rough patches, and misunderstandings in our years together. It was the best apology moment ever – and the worst – we wiped the slate clean and looked forward.
We never had to say it again. For the next three months we were in unison, we were mindful and kind to each other. We were loving and gentle. And there was no point in saying we were sorry about the situation. I think I did say I am sorry one more time – when he woke up from a second surgery and I had to tell him the cancer was back. That was the other kind of sorry – sorry, so sorry, it’s not to be….
But after he died, I was sorry all the time. Sorry he wasn’t here, sorry my kids didn’t have their father. I was sorry I got to taste food that he couldn’t eat, got to see the lovely white snow decorating our yard that he couldn’t see, got to hear the voices of our children throughout the house and he couldn’t call back to them, got to hug the family and friends that he could no longer touch. I was so sorry that he was missing out. I was so sorry that I got to be the lucky one and be alive.
I said I am sorry in my head every time I enjoyed myself. I said I am sorry in my head every time I saw my kids hurt. I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. That kind of sorry wasn’t an option. Ask my sisters, even on my worst days I would mention what I was grateful for or say, whatever, that’s life. I was too busy saying I am sorry to everyone else to say it to myself.
But then I had my dance with anger (see my post Busting Out) and I started to reject the notion that I had to be grateful ALL the time.
On a dry hot day this summer I went to visit my husband’s grave. I dusted off his Bahama Blue grave stone while a back hoe was digging behind me and a young man in a folding metal chair was seated by a grave to my right. Crouched on the ground, as close as I could be, I found myself saying the same two things over and over: thank you, thank you, I am so sorry, so so sorry. Dust, weed the grass, repeat – thank you, thank you I am so sorry. And then I paused and heard in my head – I am so sorry but – I want to be happy now.
So maybe that is my last apology to him. I know it wasn’t necessary, he would want me to be happy. I cried the whole way home – acknowledging that you don’t want to stand still in grief carries its own kind of pain.
And I want to stop apologizing, for what I need, for what feels good, for what I expect. It’s not easy. When I hear this new voice in my head I have to search for the words to describe what will make me happy and how I want to be in this world.
If I make a mistake or I say something unkind, I will apologize. We need to say sorry to the people we injure and try even harder, everyday, to be gentle, so we don’t need to apologize. And there will be plenty of things that will happen in this world that I will be sorry about. That’s life.
Sorry not sorry – time to go eat some pancakes!