One time a friend of mine, whom I hadn’t seen in at least a dozen years, called me. After some brief pleasantries, he started apologizing to me for being a part of a group who had started criticizing me during our time together as fellow workers.
His story took me by surprise. I had no idea such a criticism had occurred, and if it had, certainly I was sure it wouldn’t have been participated in by my friend.
After telling him of my surprise, he said, “I hope you will forgive me.” “No forgiveness necessary,” I responded.
He seemed relieved, almost happy that I said that. After a few seconds of silence, the conversation abruptly ended.
As I started thinking about it, I asked myself, what could I have done to cause my friend to criticize me? It was a small thing, but It bothered me, in fact, it hurt. I wanted to know more, but it was too late to ask; my friend had ended the conversation too quickly and left no phone number. (At that time we didn’t have the convenience of a call back number on our cell phones.)
This reminds me of a more serious story my wife told me.
There was this father who had a gravely ill daughter. She was ten years old. While talking to her in the hospital, she told him she didn’t feel he loved her. Shocked, the father asked why. She said that ever since he had accidentally kicked a ball, during a family kick ball game, that hit her in the side of the face she developed the feeling he didn’t love her. The father was stunned. He began to tell her how much he loved her, but lo, it was too late. She began to lapse into a coma. She never regained consciousness. The father broke down and cried uncontrollably.
(The father had become a modern day tragic Shakespearean character, who finds out about a deed he deeply regrets, but can do nothing to rectify it.)
I asked my wife what happened to the father.
“Nothing,” she said, “he had to live on.
“What’s the moral of the story,” I asked. She responded, “We all will have moments in our lives that will surprise and shock us. We can’t control those times. What we can control is our determination to live each day as best we can.”
Tough, tough insight, but true.