Forgive Me Forward

I’m fond of the “pay it forward” concept. In our frantic world, it is a simple way to feel connected to the universal nature of our humanity without being tied to or even aware of the outcome or recipient of our gesture.
The other day Josh came careening around the corner into the kitchen, and with a lower body hug that nearly knocked me over he announced, “Mommy, I will follow you anywhere!” Instead of these endearing and
innocent words filling me with joy, they actually produced a visceral reminder of a traumatic event from my own childhood.
While in elementary school, I would walk the three and a half blocks home at noon, so I could eat lunch with my mom. After a bowl of Alphabet soup and a few Club crackers, I was off again. This particular afternoon, on my trek back, I was joined by a small, friendly, white, curly haired dog. After petting him and whispering the sweet nothings of a pre-tween little girl, I kept walking. He followed.
Arriving at the double doors of the school, I bent down, gave him one more pat on the head, and asked him to run back home. I settled into my second row desk by the window. As I pulled out a sharp No. 2 pencil and a blue spiral for math, I noticed the little dog out of the corner of my eye. From my third grade classroom, I had a full view of Sheridan Boulevard. It was a busy suburban street especially around lunchtime. As the little dog neared the street, my heart sank. He trotted across. My eyes became glued to his bright white fur against the deep green clover as he frolicked in the median.
The light turned, and cars intermittently blocked my helpless view. I whispered to myself, “Please stay put little dog.”
He didn’t.
I saw him dart between the quickly moving cars, but he did not come all the way across. It was not until the traffic cleared that I discovered his lifeless body lying up against the far curb.
Paralyzed, I watched as another stream of cars passed between me and the little dog who chose to follow me anywhere.
My son was still wrapped around my legs as this memory finished playing in my mind, and I snapped back into the present. I lifted Joshua to my cheek and held him tight. Quietly I prayed, “Oh no, no, don’t choose to follow me anywhere,” as I softly said aloud, “I love you my sweet child.”
As broken, incomplete, and imperfect humans, our responsibility as parents can feel daunting. Being in the wrong place, I will disappoint him. Saying the wrong thing, I will crush his spirit. Making the wrong decision, I may harm him. On any given day I may be distracted, disturbed, or simply despondent. I fully realize I am incapable of being everything our sons need me to be. I will let them down.
Valentine’s Day seems like an appropriate time to ask all those I love, but especially those who count on me to show them the way and the truth, to please “forgive me forward.”
Today as we celebrate love, let us remind our children who it is that embodies
perfect love. As we look forward to the Easter season, remind the hearts of our next generation of the way, truth, and the only life they should ever choose to follow anywhere.
Hug those you love.
I look forward to your thoughts. Michele