January 2021

Forgiveness in the Times of COVID

I feel so much older than I did four years ago. I have aged at the speed of light, my heart heavy yet buoyant, as we move and slog through these days. Is it older or is it wiser? I’m not sure they’re one in the same anymore. How does the knowledge of how systems have failed us, laid bare with its racist roots exposed, weigh within your soul? We can’t ignore it anymore, and yet we do.

I spend so much time with myself, wondering how I can love myself now that I’ve explored every corner of my poisoned human brain. Dusting off the cobwebs of memories you wish stayed in the past, hibernating in the belly of the beast. I try to gingerly pick up these memories, like bruised fruit that fell off the table. Some are still edible, some need to be placed in the trash, but I have to test each one to be sure.

The act of forgiveness, yourself or others, is a process. We talk of forgiveness like it’s a dessert we pick at the end of a meal, prepared and offered for our enjoyment. Yet, it’s increasingly hard with phases of grief opening and closing our mind’s eye to what we’re searching for.

I have a twin brother, a fact that shocks most people because I don’t really talk about him. “What’s it like to be a twin?” A person will always ask, making me feel inadvertently like I’m a side show freak for sharing a womb. Once, I replied to a perfect stranger “What’s it like NOT being a twin?” and she reacted like I had insulted her – that she deserved to hear this answer, despite its intrusive intent. “I don’t know what it’s like being a twin,” she said measuredly, staring at me and waiting. But people don’t want to hear that my brother and I don’t really talk. We’re not magically linked and can’t read each other’s minds. That we’re actually two moons circling our parents, on opposite side of their poles. When you’re an anomaly, people think deserve answers directly from you.

Yet, I know I’ve overstepped this boundary with others. Making small talk, mostly with strangers, trying to get them to start talking so you don’t feel so alone at the party. It’s a very human thing to do, to ask too much. We take, and we give, and we ask, and we want. I imagine an eraser, wiping clean the moments I want to move past, the wrongs I’m learning from, the actions I am trying so hard to forgive. It never takes the spot out, though I’ll keep scrubbing.

A year into the pandemic, I know I’m supposed to hate everything. I don’t. I acknowledge the hell so many are living in, and work hard to support those in need. I’ve mostly felt a weird relief. The weight of who I once was has dissolved. Feeling the frayed edges of living starting to fuse together. The things I used to be were desperate grabs at acceptance, like a child trying to get their parent’s attention, but now I only have myself. This great pause, wrapped in my cocoon, wondering what I will emerge into the light as. A butterfly. A gnat. A grown adult ready for who she really is.

As the frozen aspects of our society start to melt away, who will we be after this is over?

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