This I Believe…
I am a firm believer in the human quality of forgiving, and most importantly, forgetting.
During the month of August in 1998, when I was merely the tender age of six, my entire world and life was changed forever. I was at a neighbor’s home on a Sunday morning recovering from staying up all night during her birthday slumber party, and my mom walked over to pick me up. We walked home and I had settled myself onto the couch getting ready for a day of nothing but cartoons and cereal, when suddenly I heard my mom let out an ear-shattering scream that sent shivers down my back. In my young, innocent mind I had figured that she saw a snake or spider in the basement, but it turned out to be a much bigger crisis. My mom ran up the stairs and straight out the front door without even saying a word, she just had a look of terror on her face that I will never forget. From that moment I knew something was terribly wrong. I followed her across the street where she had met my neighbor in the driveway, and I was only a few steps away when I heard my mom say:
“Billy is dead.”
Billy was my dad, and I knew right then and there that my world would never, ever be the same. Despite my age, I knew exactly what I heard, and I knew I had heard it correctly, I had no question.
I did not, however, find out until later on in my life how it had all happened. See, for a while my father had been suffering through depression, and that day I guess it had just all caught up to him. When my mom left to come pick me up that Sunday, he took the shotgun down into the basement and shot himself right through the heart. He shocked everyone by committing suicide that day. No one had seen it coming.
For a while after that I basically excised that memory from my brain. Being so young it was hard for me to even accept or comprehend what had happened, so after a while I just stopped thinking about it. Though never did I once blame my dad, I never was mad or even upset at him for leaving our family in such a panic. I knew he had his reasons for wanting to leave this Earth, and to this day I can accept that. As I get older, though, I realize the best thing I can do is forgive and forget the situation. If I hang on to the lost memory forever I will never move on in my life, and in order to be successful it’s necessary to move on, which is why I believe in the power of forgiving and forgetting.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.