I told my son about my intention to have a small remembrance ceremony for his dad. He did not quite feel the need, but wanted to be a part of it. Our first morning, we went to the rocky beach where I had picked up a stone on my first trip to the island in 1996. On the rock I wrote, “I forgive you,” and I wrapped it in paper with the following quote, which I also read aloud.
"Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of the past into a hope for our future. (Lewis B. Smedes)My son and I had a nice talk about forgiveness, why it is important and how hard it can be to forgive someone who has hurt you. We also talked about the symbolism of rocks and water. Rocks with hard rough edges can represent anger and grief and the tough thing that we go through in life. The water can represent time and the work that we do to heal. As the water flows over the rocks, the edges are smoothed and can represent our healing. [This is all adapted from a rock ceremony I use in grief support groups and remembrance services. I do not remember it’s actual source] We both held the rock for a few moments and then I threw it into the water.
Then we searched for another rock to help us remember our trip to the island and the beginning of new memories for my son and I. While my son was searching, I took some private time to say a prayer and some lines of a song. I also tried to light a candle which does not work well on a windy island shoreline and resulted in nice fingertip burn. Tears flowed, not because of the burn, but because I was finally able to say goodbye and let go in a symbolic way, which is something I really needed to do since we were not included in his funeral. I was able to cry for the man I loved. I was also able to forgive the man who betrayed me and left my child without a father. The tears were cleansing and did not last long.
Once my son and I found the “perfect rock” to represent our trip to the island we left the shoreline to begin our vacation. We had a great time making tons of new memories over the next two days. The last place we visited before we left the island was that same rocky beach. It was not planned, my kiddo just wanted to play in the water and collect more rocks (a lot more - carried home in MY backpack!), but it brought things full circle. I feel more settled than I have in years.