32 years ago I was adjusting to the awkward world of being a seventh grader in junior high school. The awkwardness was compounded for me because of my wicked good stutter. I could hardly string together two words, much less two sentences, without violently stuttering. People laughed at me. People made fun of me. People were uncomfortable around me. That was part of my life in junior high school.
Since that time, my stutter is still good, just not wicked good like it was then. I’ve learned to adjust to life not talking like most everyone else.
I was reminded of the pain I endured as a child this weekend. Someone who I haven’t talked to or seen in decades sent me a heartfelt message on Facebook.
Earlier in the day I had posted a video on Facebook that acknowledged my oldest sister, Lana, would have been 51 years old if her addiction to alcohol hadn’t intervened. That video trigger the following message…
“I’ve wanted to write to you for a long time but I wasn’t sure how to start. When I saw your video about Lana, I decided the start wasn’t as important as actually doing it.
There are things in life that stay with us. Things that we do that if we could go back in time and erase, we would. One of mine involved you. In Mr. Dowdy’s class one day, I heard someone trying to speak and stuttering. I made fun not realizing it was you. When I turned around and saw the hurt on your face, I felt horrible but I wasn’t mature enough to apologize.
I’ve never forgotten what an ugly thing I did and how it hurt your feelings. I know its been a long time since then and you may not even remember but I am so very sorry, John.
You included the serenity prayer in your video about Lana. I am not an alcoholic but I know one of the steps to recovery is to apologize to those you may have hurt. I believe we should all do that no matter the amount of time that has passed.
Please know that I always thought very highly of you. Once again, I am sorry for hurting you that day.”
I teared up reading that apology. It took courage to write it and I can only imagine the pain she has harbored inside. It must have felt good for her to let it go. It felt amazing for me to read. Of course, I responded back but my reply will never compare to her courageous apology.
The moral to this story is simple: it’s never too late to apologize.