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To err is human, to forgive, divine.― Alexander Pope, An Essay On Criticism
When unresolved thoughts and
Stray words take the stage,
Believe in chances galore
For amendments anew.
The day is blinding with sunlight bleeding through every crack and crevice but the air around her is chillingly cold, raw and piercing. It’s a busy street with plenty of Santa Claus doppelgangers, carol groups and so many children – this noise of boundless joy and the warmth of togetherness is so painful, it burns her inside out.
Store after store, with every group of carol singers she passes, memories of past deeds and thoughts cloud her vision and she’s left stumbling through the multitude of humans seemingly, glowing with the joy they’re imbued with. Wounds of old, left to fester have darkened her path home and she seeks refuge at a toy store with numerous nutcrackers, train sets and singing Santas – hoping the beautifully chaotic atmosphere will numb her out.
Parking herself next to a meticulously sculpted angel who towers over her, she sings along to the hymn rippling throughout the store. Each word ringing deep and true, she regrets on how life would have been had she been cautious of the world. Wearing her heart and soul on her sleeve, leaving herself vulnerable with her scars exposed to the happy air around, all she does is search – for someone or something to set her free from this suffocating chasm of self-hate.
When the world closes in on you,
And life is hard to come by,
Watch as stories of resilience unfold
And know that there is much beauty to behold
If you truly search and just breathe.
And someone does. A child. She’s no older than eight, dressed as an elf and holding a small bag of candy canes, the classic Christmas kind. And she’s staring at this lone woman who looks sad on Christmas day. She’s mouthing the words to the hymn playing in the store but a choked whisper of parts of words are all that’s heard. And she’s suddenly curious. Who is this woman in a toy store who hasn’t bought a single thing, and why ever is she sad on Christmas day? So she asks.
She didn’t see the child at first but sensed someone’s gaze on her and found the young girl looking at her face, her own scrunched in what was either doubt or fear. “Why are you sad?” The girl ventured.
She questioned her own thoughts – why was she sad? Was it because she lost someone dear to her, because no one seemed to care or because life went on like a person just hadn’t been so horribly tormented by their own thoughts? “I don’t quite know, child. What do you suggest I do? What do you do when you’re sad?”
She doesn’t even think, such spontaneity and innocence. “I just don’t think about it. Someone is bound to make it up sometime. Parents or God or animals, maybe? Someone will be a cause for joy when the time is right. I like how my cat sits on my lap when I’m feeling sad.”
When the time is right,
And the blues recede,
Rejoice in enduring and
Realise understanding, appears
In forms, you least expect.
The woman looks like she’s found several things wrong with this answer, and she asks the child, “But say it was…. a person that made you feel sad. Would you forgive them, just like that?”
“I guess so. I usually just forget the whole thing the next day. But I know adults don’t work like that. My mom has an impeccable memory.”
The woman smiles at that. Who knew memories could haunt so badly? “What would you say an adult should do?”
The girl thinks this time. “I guess what’s done is done – you can’t go back and change it. Here, have a candy cane and forgive the person or….. yourself for hurting you. I hear candy is good at making people happy.” She nods at her own wisdom as she hands the woman a candy cane.
For when times seem bleak
And your mind turns into a cage,
Remember to forgive yourself
For being human.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
― Mark Twain