Asking Forgiveness Thirty Years Later

Photo by bykst from Pixabay
Photo by bykst from Pixabay

I had felt justified. When she had paid me $25 to participate in the choreographer’s showcase I was organizing, she knew her deposit would be non-refundable. So when she came back a couple of weeks later to say she wouldn’t be able to participate after all and had requested her money back, I refused. It was non-refundable! I remember she had sighed, irritated, and then walked away.

We were both young artists struggling to support ourselves in New York City, and I wanted that money to help cover costs for the production. But had she needed the money more? While keeping her deposit, some part of me questioned: did I do the right thing?

It was two years later that I heard Halla had killed herself, this young dancer from Hawaii who had come to the big city to try her luck in the dance world, just like I had. The news came as a shock and a blow to me and I couldn’t get out of my head the moment of meanness I had shown her. Of course I hadn’t known what she was going through in her life, but still I regretted what I had done.

It’s a wonder how these things come around and revisit us. Recently while reading a book about the Ho’Oponopono forgiveness practice as taught by Dr. Hew Lin who is from Hawaii, I thought of Halla, whom I had known so briefly thirty years before. Picking up my computer I searched her name and found information about her mother, a dance researcher who had started an organization exploring various native and contemporary dance arts. That’s where I discovered the dance scholarship she had set up in 1987 in memory of her daughter.

Reading about this broke a chunk of ice in my chest and I began to cry. Had my small un-generosity been one of many little disappointments or difficulties that had over time added up to a burden she could no longer carry? Of course, I didn’t think keeping her money had caused her suicide. Still I grieved to think that where a small act of mercy or kindness could have been balm to a struggling soul, I had acted for my own interests and looked the other way.

Sobbing I asked for Halla’s forgiveness all these years later. Then, when the tears finished, I marveled. Had my spirit been holding onto this for thirty years, only now able to cleanse itself of this regretful act? How many small slights had I shown people over the years, conscious or unconscious? Why did this one in particular emerge for clearing? Did I have to ask forgiveness for all the little errors I had made through the years? What an exhausting thought!

Or perhaps by cleansing this one regretful incident,  I was somehow clearing other emotional debris from my psyche at the same time. Who knows?

Sitting with the mystery of it all, I did end up donating $100 to the memorial fund, asking that the money be dedicated to Halla. It felt like a small way to say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were suffering so much. I wish I had been generous and given you your deposit back. I wish you well.” Then I just decided to chant the simpler version given to us by Dr. Hew Lin: “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”


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