Because It Was Grassy and Wanted Wear

I will never forget that sound.

The crunching of the packed snow beneath my feet, dissonant with the throbbing in my ears from my racing heart.

He sought me out.  He wanted my forgiveness.  Wanted to talk to me…to see in my eyes that forgiveness was even possible.

I sought out a safe place to meet him.  Though I knew with certainty that he wouldn’t physically harm me, I feared for my emotional safety.  My aunt provided that shelter.

Fourteen years prior, he shot my father twice and killed him.

I was two.  And in an instant, fatherless.

As I reached to open my aunt’s door, I was stuck between two places.  In that moment, with my hand clenching her doorknob, I could move forward or I could retreat. There simply was no in between.

I pushed the door open and the heat from my aunt’s house engulfed me.

He was there.  Sitting at the table.  I greeted my aunt, shed my coat, and sat opposite him at the table. And I waited.

It wasn’t my turn to talk.

He apologized.  His words were much what I expected them to be.  I knew the story…the reasons for why he did what he did.  They had been the best of friends.

I can still see him, rubbing one of his hands with the other, worrying his skin raw.

But his eyes?  His eyes expressed his sorrow and remorse in a way that his words never could.

I’m not sure I have ever seen eyes as soft as his were in that moment as he sat there, stumbling over his words, looking to me for encouragement to continue speaking.

I let him speak until he was completely deflated…words expelled like air from a balloon overfilled to near bursting.

There was a familiarity about him.  Some part of my brain remembered him.

In that moment I was left to make a choice.  To forgive him or to hang onto my anger and hurt, polishing it until it gleamed with bitterness.

It was the moment to choose whether to set him free of his burden or take that opportunity to make him pay.  To crush his hopes for a release from even a small part of his guilt.

I didn’t hesitate for a moment.  I forgave him.

I made a choice that freed us both.

The easy, predicable choice would have been to hold my anger close, fueling it with thoughts of all that had been ripped from me.

The more difficult choice was to forgive him, to recognize that he was human and that relinquishing my anger would bring me peace unlike anything I had ever known.

His life was already broken.  He would never be the person he was before he killed my father.

But my forgiveness? He sat there and asked it of me.

And offering that it to him was truly the fork in my road.

The Road Not Taken — Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

*The decision to forgive this man who destroyed my family was my choice.  This was the right choice for me.  If I were my grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, or mother, I can’t say that my choice would have been the same.  That is impossible to know.  I can only truly know what is best for me.  I love my family beyond words and their strength astonishes me to this day.

Mama's Losin' It

95 comments

  1. Casey cassandrakolb.blogspot.com

    Wow, what an amazing and humbling thing you did. I couldn't imagine being in your place. You are a great writer by the way

  2. That's amazing, and I am sure it was hard, heartbreaking and as you said freeing!
    Life is to short to live with that kind of bitterness in your heart and dark cloud over you!

  3. I can't even imagine having to go through something so difficult, to make that decision to forgive someone for something that shook your whole world like that. It took courage. I'm glad it freed you. Thank you for sharing something so deep and personal as this. Thank you!

  4. 2bkate Twitter.com/2bkate

    Amazing! With each new post I become more and more in awe of the person you are. I’m so thankful to have met you. Forgiveness is always the more difficult path, one I always try to take…

  5. kris prettyalltrue.com

    I am not sure I would have had the strength you did.

    That strength to forgive.

    I am so very proud of you.

    And this post?

    The best writing I have ever seen from you.

    And that?

    Is high praise indeed.

    Love you, Nichole.

    I so do.

  6. At two years old, you may not have been able to fully process what had been lost – perhaps that's what enabled you to forgive him.

    I'm glad it gave you some peace. I hope your family understands your kindness to him.

  7. Tanya igniteyour.com

    This is a great post Chole. Forgivness is empowering and always the answer. To not forgive only holds us hostage. The Robert Frost poem is one of my favorites. :)

  8. Allison alli-n-son.com

    Wow. Just wow. You are an amazing and strong woman. Good for you for letting and forgiving. That takes so much strength.

  9. Marian runawaysentence.com

    what!
    yes, your best writing. thank you for sharing your words with us.
    love.

  10. Incredible.

    Incredible writing. Incredible post.

    Incredible woman, are you.

    I'm glad that forgiveness called you louder than the other.

    You are better for it. But you know that.

  11. Kristin peaceloveandmuesli.com

    Oh my. I wasn't sure if you were writing fiction or not until the end. The subject is heartbreaking and the writing is superb. This can't of been an easy piece for you to write.

    For the record, I think you made a very healthy choice. Polishing bitterness does not lead to happiness.

  12. TamingInsanity

    What a lovely post. A horrible experience in many ways but you put it into words so eloquently. You truly are one of the best people I know.

    And I love the Frost poem. I've been thinking about it a lot lately.

  13. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to write this post. That you were only a teenager when you showed such strength and grace in the face of this momentous and life-defining decision is truly remarkable. Thank you for sharing such a moving and personal experience.

  14. BringUpBee bringingupbronwyn.com

    Beautiful post. Goosebumps and tears in my eyes.

    Forgiveness is such a powerful thing, for both the forgiver and the forgivee.

  15. Natalie mommyofamonster.com

    Wow, Nichole…just wow. For the beautiful writing. For your being able to forgive. For all of it.

  16. AccustomedChaos accustomedchaos.com

    :: Chills:: you are incredible & thank you for sharing with such powerful words!

  17. Jeanne

    Every time I wrestle with forgiving someone for something significant, I learn something new about forgiveness itself. Reading a snippet of your struggle with such an enormous challenge adds to that too. Thanks for sharing it, and thanks for being willing to do something hard when easy was available.

  18. Adrienne nopointsforstyle.com

    It's hard for me to get my mind around the fact that you were just a girl, only 16 years old, when you stretched yourself out and embraced forgiveness. Just 16 years old.

    What a tremendous gift to yourself, to him, to all the people who love you. You couldn't have known it at the time, but you gave an enormous gift to Katie and Matthew that day. Forgiveness is painful and difficult, but warm. Bitterness is ice cold.

    Thank you for this. I love you more with every piece of yourself you share here.

  19. strawbrykiwi

    Words fail me, that was wonderful writing and such an incredible thing you shared with us.

  20. armsopengrace

    You are a very strong & determined person to do what you did! BRAVO! Wonderful words – thank you for sharing them with us!

  21. Krista notmommyoftheyear.com

    Powerful post. Chilling & inspiring & brave. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Nigel Paresis

    Know how usually I am all snarky and stuff when I'm commenting all over the place?

    No snark here: you are absolutely fantastic. With sugar on top.

  23. having a hard time finding words
    but not so much finding love for you
    you are truly unique
    and beautiful

  24. CDG

    generous, eloquent… inspiring. my mother was never able to forgive the man who shattered her family. i wish she had been able to find the peace you did before he was gone, and it became impossible.

    thank you for sharing your soul with us.

  25. Maryline francoamericandream.com

    So you were 16 when you "confronted" him, right? Oh my goodness, how you found it in your young self to offer forgiveness… I applaud your courage for making that choice.
    I learned a lesson by reading you, thank you.

  26. Aunt Darlene

    I remember that day very well! You were so scared! I was over whelmed then with Pride and I still am. You are an extremely beautiful person inside and out. Even at the young age of 16, you were beyond your years with wisdom. Your past reflects on your children and it's heart warming to see that it is reflecting in such a positive way.
    I Love You Nichole!!!
    Aunt Darlene

  27. Karen & Gerard zemeks.blogspot.com

    That's so cool you were able to forgive him. What a terrible thing to have happen though! We all need to forgive.

    Stopping by from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop: http://zemeks.blogspot.com/2010/08/long-drive-out

  28. ksluiter

    This is the most powerful post I have read ever, I think. It knocked me out. You are brave and strong. And beautiful. You are beautiful all the way done to your toes, my friend.

  29. meredith

    just stunning, nichole. really.

  30. Meredith insockmonkeyslippers.com

    A very moving and beautiful post Nichole!

  31. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words about my writing.
    The choice I made was right for me, but if I had been another member of my family, I don't know that I could have done the same thing.

  32. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I think that we've all known someone who has let bitterness guide them. The way that defines a life is heartbreaking.

    Letting that go meant that I wouldn't let it define me. It meant that I was in control of my life, not someone else.

  33. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you for coming by and leaving your kind words — they mean so much to me.

  34. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I don't think you can ever know what you're capable of until you are in that moment.
    Thank you…for your words about my character and for your compliments on my writing.
    Coming from such a gifted, strong, and loving woman, those words mean so much.
    Love you.

  35. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    By the time I was sixteen, I had a heart full of hurt over having lost my dad — the idea of having a father to encourage me, to love me unconditionally, to protect me.
    But harboring hate wouldn't have made any of that magically go away.

    I hope my family understands too.

    Thank you so much for stopping by — I appreciate your comment. :)

  36. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    So many of Robert Frost's poems resonate with me.
    Thank you for your thoughtful words. You are so right — forgiveness is always the answer.
    I hope that I can lead my children by example.

  37. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Alli.
    In that moment, it was amazing how much clarity I had — I was so confident that I was doing what was best for me.
    I will never regret that choice.

  38. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you for your comments on my writing.
    I was an English professor before I had children, so I'm so used to critiquing the writing of others.
    It feels so wonderful to get positive feedback for myself!

    You'll know when to forgive…you won't even have to question it.

  39. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Marian.
    As a mom, it reached a point where the most I was writing was my weekly grocery list.
    It feels so absolutely wonderful to be stretching my writing muscles again.
    I haven't felt this alive in a while.
    Love to you, as well.

  40. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, my beautiful friend.
    Just thank you.

  41. SkyWaitress skywaitress.com

    You are incredible to find the strength to forgive. Forgiveness is one of the hardest and best things we can ever do for ourselves.

    I admire you so much. I don't know that I could have done the same.

    Amazing post.

  42. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Kristin.
    Forgivenss is a healthy and beautiful thing…for all involved.

    Thank you for your kind words about my writing. I always find the process of writing painful, but the end result brings wih it an amazing feeling.

  43. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you. The admiration goes both ways.

    And I can see how Frost might speak to you right now. I am praying for the next month to go smoothly for your little family. Changes, even when asked for, are never easy.

  44. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Roxane. I'm so happy to see you. :)

  45. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Maybe it was because I was a teenager that I was able to offer him forgiveness? I'm not sure.
    But I have never regretted that choice. I was able to drive away that night with nothing left to weigh me down. It was liberating.
    Thank you for coming by…thank you for commenting.

  46. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Kris was beautifully generous to me today. I'm lucky to know her.
    Thank you for coming over and for your compliments.

    I wonder who I might have been had I not lost him? Perhaps not who I am today? Whenever I contemplate the idea of that, I always find myself feeling that things happen as they are supposed to, no matter how difficult the journey.

  47. TRDC_Cheryl

    Beautiful, beautiful post. So brave, in so many ways. Thank you for sharing.

    Cheryl@mommypants.com

  48. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, my friend.
    Yes, forgiveness, when truly given, is beautiful and freeing.

  49. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Natalie,
    Thank you for coming by and sharing your kindness.

  50. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I truly appreciate you coming by. Thank you for your generous words.

  51. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    In some strange way, it seems like the biggest things are sometimes the easiest to forgive and the little things, the things that fly around our heads like little gnats, just get pushed off. The big things force us to deal with them while the little ones can just pester us for a long time.

    So happy you came by…thank you for commenting.

  52. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    You are so kind.
    Thank you for your sweet words.
    Thank you for reading.

  53. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I'm so happy to see your happy, smiling face over here!
    Thank you for coming by and for leaving your sweet words.

  54. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you for reading and for commenting — I truly appreciate it.

  55. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Today, I am beyond grateful for your kindness.
    Tomorrow, I hope you return, at the ready with the snark. ;)

  56. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you.
    Seeing your comment here brought a huge smile to my face.

  57. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you for your kind words…

    Forgiveness means so many different things to so many people.
    I wonder if I had been five, ten, fifteen years older if I'd have been able to forgive him.

    I am sending my love to you and wishes for peace for your mother.

  58. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Yes, sixteen.
    Funny how when I was going through that, I considered myself to be an adult.
    But now, when I see someone that age, I am struck by how impossibly young they seem.
    Perspective is such a funny thing.

    Thank you for your thoughtful words, Maryline.

  59. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Aunt Darlene.
    Without your strength, I'm not sure I would have been able to sit there with him like that.
    I will be forever grateful to you for helping me through that difficult night and for reassuring me that the choice was mine alone to make. Your encouragement to follow my heart meant the world.
    I love you beyond words.

  60. Nigel Paresis

    Snark is my natural state, so no worries.

    It's like that story about the scorpion riding on the frog across the river and stinging him to death because it was the scorpion's nature, even though they both would drown. Actually it's just like that, only with more nudity and car chases.

    Dammit, I was going to wait until tomorrow!

    I can't be trusted.

  61. schmutzie schmutzie.com

    This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday! http://www.schmutzie.com/fivestarfriday/2010/8/13

  62. Alex@LateEnough lateenough.com

    thank you for sharing that. and for speaking on forgiveness so eloquently.

    {hug}

    im proud to know you.

  63. Lyndsey

    Nichole, I am not surprised that you offered forgiveness. You are an amazing person and I am blessed to know you and your family! I feel like every time I read your blog I understand you and know you even more! You are a tremendous writer!

  64. Tonya

    First and foremost, you are an incredible person. Thank you for sharing this unbelievable story. It was very brave of you and not something I'm sure most of us could do. You have a heart larger than life and the fact that you can forgive makes you a hero in my eyes. Bravo. **hugs**

  65. Wow. I have nothing new to add, but my feelings are still what they are. I wonder if I could do what you did. I don't know if I could. I tend to hold on to things. I really admire your strength…both to do what you did & to write this post.

  66. ShibleySmiles

    What am amazing person you have become, to be able to do such a thing. I can not say I would or wouldn't do the same thing not being in the situation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    That is my favorite poem!

  67. Alexandra174

    It is in forgiveness, that the true gift lies. It is the gift of release.

    Always so much easier said than done.

    I'm glad you did what you felt you would be able to do.

  68. Lula Lola lulalola.com/

    This really gave me chills. What a big person you are! Forgiveness is freedom. For everyone involved. What a powerful choice you made. Wow!

  69. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    For me, forgiveness was the healthiest choice.
    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  70. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    And that is one of the sweetest things anyone has ever said to me.
    I'm smiling…all the way down to my toes! :)

  71. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Meredith!
    I am so happy to see you here…

  72. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Abigail.
    I think that, in the same situation, you would have found yourself making the same choice I did.
    I really do.

  73. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    And thank you so much for reading and for commenting. :)

  74. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    That goes both ways, Alex. You've exhibited tremendous strength on more occasions than I can count.

    And thank you for the hug. :)

  75. hee! glad to be here. it's about damn time, i know. i won't let such a grievous error happen again. for realsies.

  76. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Our family is blessed to have you as a part of our world, Lyndsey.
    And thank you for the compliment on my writing. It is so easy to get wrapped up in being a mom that the other parts of who I am can suffer. It has felt great to write again.

  77. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    And thank you for coming by and for leaving such a thoughtful comment.
    If it weren't for readers like you, I would have no one with whom to share my story.
    I hope to see you here again. :)

  78. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Just stopping by and leaving a comment added so much!
    I don't think that any of us really know what we're capable of until we are in such a position.
    I think that we are all much, much stronger than we realize.

  79. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    That poem is truly lovely and has always been one of my favorites.
    Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate them…

  80. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Yes…that is exactly it — release! I felt so free driving away that night.
    One of the most wonderful parts of forgiving him is that it set the bar for what I can forgive. When faced with a situation that requires forgiveness, I am always able to tell myself that I've forgiven far worse.
    I hope that I am able to teach my children the importance of letting go of wrongs.
    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a note.

  81. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Nudity and car chases? Please, pull up a chair. ;)

  82. Nigel Paresis

    Uh oh.

    Now you're never going to let me go.

  83. oh wow! I had no idea. you are a wise woman indeed.

  84. Ashley labirdsnest.com

    Definitely speechless. Wow. You are a strong person. Thank you for sharing this story.

  85. souldipper

    Phenomenal in every way – morally, literally, and emotionally. So well written. Thank you.

  86. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    The release was powerful and defining.

  87. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you for leaving your kind words.

  88. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Love you.

  89. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you for reading.

  90. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you for coming by and for leaving me such kind words.

  91. Dolli-Mama dolli-mama.blogspot.com

    My mom always says "Forgiveness is for you, not for them." You were very brave to take such a huge step at such a young age. I am sure that is the hardest thing you have ever done.

  92. Andrea

    Just reading this after the most recent post, and am breathless. Good for you for moving forward with such strength.

  93. leliaa13p

    I also came here via the link in today's post. I admire beyond words your decision to make this choice. Forgiveness is something that I struggle with daily. I marked this entry to read again as I struggle. Thank you for writing this eloquent piece.

  94. lelisa13p

    And of course my name is typoed. – lelisa13p

  95. Rusti mylifeasanofficerswife.com

    you.are.amazing.

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