I have had the great honor of staying with my father for the past several weeks. Until now, only one night alone together, ever.
After dinner a few nights ago I asked him, "So, at this point in your life, nearly 8 decades in, is there anything you regret or would change if you could?"
I realize this was a big question, but I want to know him better. He was silent for a time and then said, "Nothing comes to me…seems odd doesn't it?" I assured him that whatever he did or didn't want to change was perfect. He then said, "Well, I suppose you do."
And without thinking the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "I had an abortion when I was 16." I cried a bit and he said, "I didn't know that" to which I replied "There's a lot of things you don't know about me." It's been over 40 years since I lived with my Dad.
After some emotions and deep feelings in me he said, "What I think you need to do…is forgive yourself."
I agreed and asked how he forgives himself.
"From a deep place of compassion ask a few questions: how does it serve me to live in blame? Could or should I have known better? How would my life be different if I can truly find forgiveness for what I did? It takes a huge amount of love."
"You will come to a crossroads and you can choose to let go and forgive, even though the old voices may be nipping at your heels."
He reminded me that not forgiving myself is like camping in a junkyard.
What sweet moments I'm having with my very wise Dad.
This encounter made me think of all the ripe fruit he and I walk past every day on our walk. Ready to be consumed and enjoyed, but forgotten. Like so many elders who are not at the pace of most current lifestyles, they have been forgotten.
This time has reminded me to slow down. To be grateful and present. To listen. To give more hugs. To laugh more often. To enjoy these precious days that we're given.
May the soft acceptance of what is give way to a deeper listening and love.