I spent a big part of this evening sitting outside thinking, listening to music, looking up at the stars, and having a very long talk with Eddie. I've written recently about learning to stand on my own, moving on with my life, accepting what has happened, and being thankful for what God has done to get me to this point. I realized tonight that the one thing I still have left to do is to forgive. For the most part I have already forgiven myself for not being able to help Eddie, but I have not forgiven Eddie for what he did - to himself, to me, to Trey, to everyone who loved and cared about him. But I know that if I am going to be 100% free to move on with my life, I have to forgive him. "Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past" (author unknown). Blaming Eddie and holding on to what happened isn't going to change anything now or ever.
Forgiveness means "to give up the wish to punish or get even with; to not have hard feelings at or toward." I don't think I've ever wanted to punish or get even with Eddie, but I have had hard feelings toward him for what he did (through both his alcoholism and his suicide). If I am finally going to be at peace, I have to let go of those hard feelings. "Forgiving and being forgiven are two names for the same thing. The important thing is that a discord has been resolved" (C. S. Lewis). When Eddie was alive I resented his drinking and the problems it caused. Since his death I've resented his suicide - I felt like he took the easy way out and left the rest of us to deal with the messy cleanup. I've accepted now that my resentment serves no purpose, and I have to let go of it for my own sake.
I didn't start out the evening planning to forgive Eddie. But sometime while talking to him tonight it hit me that the time for forgiveness has come. I'm ready to forgive him for his drinking, for his suicide, and for the pain both of those caused. Once I admitted that to myself and to him, the tears flowed like they haven't in a very long time. They were tears of sadness, hurt, pain, betrayal, acceptance, forgiveness, hope, and peace. "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you" (author unknown). It's taken a long time but I know now that by forgiving him, I'm allowing myself to have a future without blame, resentment, and other negative feelings - a future of freedom. I'll never forget, but I have forgiven.
"Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future." -Louis B. Smedes