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The Big 150: 21, Relationships – If someone has hurt you in the past, write a forgiving letter.

The Big 150: 21, Relationships – If someone has hurt you in the past, write a forgiving letter to them.

Dear Pal,


I was watching Villanova play Penn the other night, and I thought of you. Do you remember how excited we were at graduation, knowing we’d be attending college a mere train ride away from each other? I still have the photo of us taken after we jumped into the dell, smoking cigars like we were some kind of big shots. We were young and naive, and we had our whole futures in front of us.


College flew by in a blur. Do you remember coming to visit me in my dorm second semester of freshman year? You drove to south campus because you were allowed to have a car at Penn, and we just hung out in my dorm room, talking about our college lives. You technically weren’t supposed to be there. I had been accepted into my sorority, and that night, specifically, I was supposed to only be hanging out with sisters (no boys, no booze, and no bitchin’ about it). Although I trend towards rule-follower (for the most part), you did not. It was one of the best things about our friendship, you always let me be myself, but you also encouraged me to take some risks outside my comfort zone.


Speaking of taking risks, do you remember 6th form year when we’d stay in the dining hall after dinner for 6th Form Tea/Coffee, talking with friends until minutes before the bell rang for study hall? There were quite a few nights I remember having to sprint back to Wendell just so I could barely make it back on time to be on Prefect Duty, thanks to you. Looking back now, I wouldn’t trade those extra minutes for anything.


I remember when you worked at Del Frisco’s in Center City (you were always a hard worker). My family decided to take me out to dinner at Del Frisco's for my 21st birthday, and my parents insisted you join us, so you did. My birthday dinner lasted for hours, but what I remember most wasn’t the food; it was how much laughter there was at that table. You were so funny, and you had such a natural way of connecting with people that you made it look easy.


We got to see a lot of each other in college thanks to overlapping friend groups. It was really nice for awhile. But people change and sometimes they grow in different directions.


It’s been almost 3 years that you’ve been gone. Forever 30 years old. I was really angry at myself when I heard the news – angry that I hadn’t tried harder or made more of an effort to reach out. But then I forgave myself because there were so many times I did try to get a hold of you, unsuccessfully, that it broke my heart and I just couldn’t try anymore. And then, for awhile, I was really angry at you. Viscerally angry. Journaling helped with the big feelings, but crying helped more.


I talked with your family after you passed, so I could send my condolences. I vividly remember sitting with them in the dining hall at boarding school one Parents’ Weekend, drinking tea and talking about whatever (most likely you doing a Tojo impression and me trying not to laugh too loudly). It was a nice memory to recall. When I talked to them after your passing, they told me that they’d gone through your room and that even after all the years apart, you’d kept our Winter Classic ticket stubs and a photo album of us.


It's been almost 3 years, and I still have a hard time talking about you. Even watching Villanova lose to Penn the other night (about which I have no doubt you’d have been insufferable), thinking about you made me pause and catch my breath. Grief comes and goes in waves, and it’s taken awhile for me to get here – to a place where I know I can never understand why you’re gone but where I can forgive you for it.


I forgive you. Forgiveness doesn’t mean I’m happy about it or that it makes loss any easier. It just means that I am intentionally letting go of all the hurt I felt because you being gone is out of my control. I hope wherever you are, you feel at peace, and if you are somewhere this letter can reach you then I’d rather end this part with some lyrics from our favorite musician, Samantha James (obviously): “Forgivenessss is more than saying sorrrrrry.”


There are so many shared memories and inside jokes with you at the center of them that one letter could never be enough. I can only wish that we’d had more time. You were one of my best friends, and I will always miss you.

ICYMI: The Big 150

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