not enough can be made

*

Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.

~Margaret Lee Runbeck

***

Luau was walking across the schoolyard, making his way to the usual spot where we meet the girls at pick-up time.

As he forged a diagonal path across the lawn, he noticed the father of the boys who had harassed Brooke last week moving toward him.

Luau looked down, trying to avoid his eye, thinking it better for both of them and assuming that he’d make his way around him.

He was wrong.

The other father’s confrontational path was apparently by design.

He moved himself in front of Luau and stopped him as they intersected.

“Can I talk to you for a second?” he asked.

Luau was incredulous.

“I totally understand the protective parent thing,” he said out of nowhere. “You confided a very personal thing to me (apparently Luau had told him that Brooke has autism in their initial confrontation – which answers a question that some of you had asked in that post and I’d not known the answer to until hearing this story). It got me thinking and I really just want to say that I’m sorry that I was complacent. And I want you to know that it’s been taken care of.”

He continued to apologize until a somewhat shell-shocked Luau put out a hand.

“Thank you,” Luau said. “It takes a big man to say I’m sorry.” He patted a flat palm over his heart.

They continued to shake hands – a gesture imbued with a very different meaning than its predecessor a few days earlier – and eventually went their separate ways.

I barely believed Luau when he told me what had happened. This sure as hell wasn’t the same guy who had walked away from me a week before.

I’d be lying if I said I was jumping up and down with excitement after hearing the story. I was pleased; don’t get me wrong. But you see, I don’t really know what ‘it’s been taken care of’ really means. As much as I’d like to trust that this man had a life-changing dialogue with his sons, I’m not quite there yet. And honestly, I’m not really over feeling like Luau is not really the one to whom he (or more importantly his boys) should be apologizing.

But I’m trying. Because as my friend Carrie would say, ‘not enough can be made’ of the fact that this man took a step – a HUGE step, a leap in fact from where he started – toward compassion. Toward understanding. Toward empathy.

He thought about what had happened. He allowed himself to see the situation from a different perspective. He began to understand the effect it had on my child. He made his way across the schoolyard to make sure that his path would cross Luau’s. He reached out a hand.

He said, “I’m sorry.”

No, not enough can made of that.

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20 thoughts on “not enough can be made

  1. You forgive not for the other person, but for yourself. Don’t carry that “stuff” around, it is a waste of time and of your spirit. For a man to come forward and apologize to another man, speaks volumes and can’t be overlooked. Stay in the moment and move forward, xo!
    PS Luau did a lot “right” weeks ago. What he did allowed that man to become introspective, insightful and to come forward and acknowledge his complacency. Rock on Luau, your not just a lei after all:)

    • “You forgive not for the other person, but for yourself”.

      Wow. For me- that was probably one of the biggest lightbulb moments I’ve ever had. Thanks you. A thousand times… thank you for that. I’ve never heard it before but I shall never forget it.
      What a freeing idea!

  2. To me this is a testament to Luau’s grace. Had he blown up at the guy, the apology never would have happened.

    I do understand your skepticism though. And I commend your willingness to accept his olive branch. Time will tell if he is truly sincere.

  3. Oh Jess, I totally understand your feelings. Been there many times myself.
    But… baby steps. That father thought, he apologized. He APOLOGIZED. That means he took one huge step towards being one who at least tries to get it. Today he has a bit more compassion than he did yesterday. One step at a time can get you to the peak of Everest.

  4. Um, yes, what Sheila and CeeCee both wrote…much more eloquently than I could. :-) And Luau is right; it DOES take a big man to admit he’s wrong. As to how it was “taken care of”…it shouldn’t really matter bc that’s HIS family’s dynamics and challenges, right? All you & Luau (and your sweet girls!) can do is continue to be the examples, to create the opportunities. To keep letting your loving lights shine. xo

  5. Wow… just wow. And this is the power of those who can communicate for our kids- to show how they are not “they”, but “us”. How the other dad could see himself in Luau. How disability is difference, not inhumanity. Luau did quite the communicating there.

    And I got the giggles over “taken care of” (beyond the slight worry of their family dynamics) How very… male (to draw broad generalizations) to “take care” of something as big as discrimination and fear. Would that he could have “taken care” of all of that.

  6. Hooray! Lately I’ve been feeling very jaded and disillusioned about the capacity some people have for compassion. Because of the complacency and ignorance people tend to have when I’ve tried to explain, my attitude has been one of “either they ‘get it’ or they don’t.” And this man CERTAINLY would have fit into that category of “they don’t”–which means that I might have said one or two sentences to him, at which point I would have realized he was NEVER going to change or understand, and left it at that.

    THIS, however, gives me hope. People can begin to understand, they can learn to be empathetic, they can begin to accept and include our children without eye rolls and discrimination. Which means that I can’t stop trying to help them..even if I never see the fruits of my labor, maybe I have at least planted a seed.

  7. One at a time, we see when people actually try to understand, it brings hope. They don’t always land on the target, but at least they try. It doesn’t always feel this way, but once in a while I am hopeful that we live in a world where people can at least try to understand what’s real and what’s important.

    All we need is love (Corny, I know, but truer words were never spoken)

  8. Now that autism is “out in the open,” we may be seeing more situations like this – the apology part. Finally, our babies are being heard!!

    • i hope so gail – but it’s only ‘out in the open’ when these conversations happen .. one by one, situation by situation we tell our stories and ensure that our babies can tell theirs.

  9. Brooke is so lucky to have you and Luau as her parents. So many people would have handled this differently than Luau had, and those people would never have touched this man in the way that Luau did. To start the wheels turning in someone else’s head is a sticky business, and he did it beautifully.

    There’s nothing wrong with being skeptical. We’ve all been through too much heartbreak to ever be able to take anything with a grain of salt again. But Brooke has a fierce protector in you, Jess, and that’s so, so special. In fact, not enough can be made of it.

    • heck, i would have handled it totally differently!!! as frustrating as the yin and yang can sometimes be, i am so grateful for luau’s calm head (and heart!) even in tumultuous times. and thank you for your kind words.

  10. there was this guy once, who talked about this ‘forgiveness’ concept…hmmm…i’m watching the dvd right now…’godspell’…

    (thanks for that, btw…miss m is all over it)

    but seriously…i don’t think it ever feels ‘good’ or ‘right’ when you’re dealing with tattered feelings. i understand your reticence.

    but i love that you taught him something. and he responded. wow.

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