Once it’s Done, Forever
There was an as-usual-touching episode of This American Life rerun this week in the podcast. It dealt with a girl who had been extremely close with her grandmother as a child, until one day, becoming a snide teenager simultaneously beginning to understand the grander concepts of life and relationship all the while still wet enough in the feet as to be unable to understand their consequences, made some remarks to her grandmother about their relationship with each other and the other people in their family. It hurt the grandmother very badly, partially because the things said were, unintentionally, cruel but likely for all of the other complicated reasons one might expect from any sort of human interaction.
Which had me thinking over life in general, and how once you make certain choices, they can never be taken back, some words can never be forgotten, and how they can change this eternally. When I was very young, in 2nd or 3rd grade probably, I had very few friends and school life was not something that I looked forward to. There was, however, this very sweet older girl in my school who was very nice to me, exceedingly nice actually. She would always sneak me some cookies when I would see her at church or help me work the water fountain in the hallway as I was too short to stand on the step stool and press the button that would make with the water.
Then one day, while I was afforded the rare opportunity to play with some other kids, tag I believe was the game, she saw us all running around in the basement and wanted to show me off to her friends. I don’t know why; I was a nerdy, far-from-cute-in-any-way little kid, kind of chubby, very awkward. She grabbed me by the arm and tried to pull me aside for a second, and for some reason – wanting to be allowed to play with some kids who would likely just give me a wedgie and be on their way five minutes later – I punched her in the chest. A look of shock covered her face as she left go of my arm. Seeing her expression, I felt so bad, and she accepted my apology but never spoke to me again.
There have been plenty of other times in life when this has happened again (though I did learn my lesson about punching girls, thankfully). I don’t have any great revelations as to why it happens or what might possibly be done to avoid it, but simply am astonished at the idea of a civilization that lives in a world of do-overs &em; mulligans, mistrials, divorce, control+z &em; there is still the basic problem of making irreparable mistakes that can destroy everything in an instant.