So yesterday I went to a funeral Mass – the first one since my darling Dad left us 6 years ago – for a good man, a great man who was beloved by so many and who had been so kind and generous of spirit to my great kid and me over the years. The church was filled with family, friends, acquaintances and admirers, all there to honor this man and the legacy he left behind.
One of his eulogists talked about how much this man had accomplished in his life, how he gave and gave and gave even when he had nothing left to give. And then he talked about how the last day or so of this gentleman’s life he said that he was sorry to everyone who came to see him. His apology was not for anything he had done, or any hurt he had caused anyone. He was saying he was sorry that he wasn’t strong enough to fight any longer against the horrible disease that racked his body. I believe – in my heart of hearts – that he was trying to tell those he loved that he had done the best he could and hoped they could understand that he knew his time here was coming to an end.
That concept made me fill up with tears. Not only could I understand the sentiment – because my Dad had in essence let us know at the very end that he could not go on any more – but it made me think about how much of our time, our lives are wasted either being sorry for the wrong things or neglecting to reach out to those who we love and who love us to share how we feel with them.
I spent far too much time in my ill-advised marriage apologizing for things great and small because it was easier to do that and keep the peace than deal with the underlying issues and my inability – then, not now – to stand up for myself. And it’s an easy habit to get into, to say “I’m sorry” without even thinking about the words or why we are saying them.
We all hurt people occasionally, hopefully unintentionally, and those times warrant an apology. But we should focus instead on sharing out affection, our appreciation, our love for those we have chosen to surround ourselves with throughout our lives. I have tried so hard to do that these last few years, to tell people who have given me so much, both material and spiritual, that I am humbled by their kindness. That I appreciate their unconditional and unwavering support. That their words of encouragement lighten my load and lift my spirit. That I hope that their investment in me as my friend is worth it.
I have not always been successful in this pursuit. There are some people, very few in reality, who are not receptive to apologies, nor inclined to offer them. But I keep trying because I must. I want no words unsaid, no apology not offered, no kindness not repaid, no loose ends when all is said and done.
What I want is to be able to do what this good and kind man did and have my only apology when my time comes be that I cannot fight any more, that I wish I had more time with them, that I wanted another day, another chance, another beginning, another goodbye. I want my “I’m sorry” to mean what it meant to this man whose passing we mourned yesterday. Because, in the end, the love we take is equal to the love we make.
Goodbye, Mr. Hoos, and thank you for being a shining example of a life lived well and a heart and spirit filled with kindness and love.