She stood in front of me, her 8-year-old daughter by her side. This girl, now woman, who had taunted me in my youth. She and her friend would feign to befriend me, only to toss slights my way and jaunt off together to play, leaving me behind. It was an up-and-down arrangement; when she needed someone, she’d turn to me. When she didn’t, she’d turn away.
Years passed. She was now a mother, with several children, and had redirected her life from the wildness of her youth, to that of a responsible adult, finding her way back to the God her grandmother feared she had strayed from.
“I feel so badly about how I treated you when we were kids,” she said, looking first at me, and then down at her daughter.
She spoke to the girl. “Mrs. G and I were neighbors, and I was mean to her. I’m not proud of that. That’s why we’re here: so I can tell her I’m sorry. I want you to treat people right, and to know it’s never too late to apologize.”
She looked back at me, subdued. We hugged, and I felt the pain of her shame. Her seeking forgiveness was a moment I never expected, didn’t know I wanted, and felt deep gratitude for experiencing. It was a moment of unanticipated grace; a grace still with me today.