This week is a high holy week in Judaism, set aside for atonement. And although I am not Jewish, I have long been exposed to and invited to participate in many of the traditions and celebrations of the faith. Unlike the Christian belief that when you sin against someone, you can just ask forgiveness from a priest or god, the Jewish belief states that first you need to go and ask forgiveness from the person you have hurt and make it right. This makes much more sense to me.
I began to practice this ritual many years ago. I have found it to be very humbling and very cleansing. And I have been very blessed that all the people (and there have been many) to whom I have spoken and asked forgiveness have always been extremely gracious and forgiving. Except, ironically, three leaders from my former church who chose to not even acknowledge my apologies. (Christian hypocrisy noted)
This month is a hard one for me, the anniversary of a violent attack that changed my life forever, and now, finally, doing some serious work in therapy to come to grips with it all. One of the biggest things I believe prevents me from having closure is that I don’t know the ending of the story. Because her parents would not allow me to see her, nor would they speak to me, I don’t know if, or where, Daphne was buried. I do not the exact date of her death. Or even how she died. There was no saying goodbye. There was no saying “I’m sorry”. Just a huge gaping wound that continues to bleed.
I have often fantasized about calling her parents hoping that, after all these years, they might give me some closure. Numerous times I have look them up, written down the phone number, but I have never been able to find the courage to call.
And then, on Rosh Hashanah, after considering all those other apologies I wanted to make ths week, it came to me. I was unable to apologize to Daphne but I could, should apologize to her parents. And as soon as I thought of it, the need to do it became overwhelming. For the last three days I have working on this letter. It has been agonizing. Every word. Every memory. The guilt. The staggering guilt. I have poured my whole heart into this letter.
Now that it is written, I am hesitant to send it.. I am wrestling with knowing that this apology is not pure. That I do have another motive, that of wanting some information back. And I don’t know how I’ll handle it if I get no response at all.
The thought of that seems unbearable.