There is a prayer I learned when I was young and church was a regular part of my life. I suppose I would fall into the lapsed Catholic camp - though for my Mom it remains a very meaningful part of her life and her beliefs. And I do try, where religion is concerned, to be respectful of people 's deeply held convictions - and more importantly not begrudge them what gives them comfort at times like these - even if I don't always agree.
It was a prayer in which you beseech the Virgin Mary "and all of the angels and saints" to forgive you. "In my thoughts and in my words, for what I have done, for what I have failed to do..."
I have always been a word person so when I hear a good line, it tends to stick with me. Taking the religious aspect away for a moment - it is the words themselves that I find beautiful and over the years I found myself returning to them - they are a part of who I am. At times, more specifically at this time, I go back to them a lot - roll them around on my tongue - try to absorb their power. Because it is a time to be grateful for what I have had - but also a time of atonement, of reckoning, to reflect on certain moments and to do what I can to let them go. I am always suspicious of anyone who might suggest they have no regrets, as it implies to me that the one million errors, omissions and deliberate transgressions we inflict in the course of our daily lives are okay if we have learned something from them. For me, my life has been a constant re-living of these moments - they are familiar ghosts who fly back into my mind just when things are getting good to remind me I am not worthy and at a minimum, did not try hard enough. That is the place that guilt brings you to - and when you live there it is hard to move on.
I have said before that from where I sit the only things that really need to be said are "I love you" and "I am sorry" - and there are only so many ways to convey these things in a way that is meaningful and real. I say them a lot to the people closest to me - try to remember to say something before I hang up the phone. I suppose the phrase "it goes without saying" may apply here and yet I keep yammering on - trying to perfect the message and trying to genuinely say - if not individually, to the collective community of people I have hurt - I am sorry - and be okay with the fact that for some people, that may not be enough. The expectation of forgiveness is not a given - this I have learned. There are some situations where it may never be earned. These things must be confined to the "unresolved" box and the lid shut tight. Not forgotten, but allowed to be what they are without my constant fussing - my meaningless interventions - my overpowering need to be absolved.