Can an apology be too late?
Can an apology ask too much?
The voice on the phone was as small as it was unexpected. We haven't spoken for a very long time. We were young, now we're not. The occasion of the phone call was ostensibly to ask me how I felt about Kathleen Wynne's election as Ontario's new premier. The election of an openly gay person to one of Canada's top offices is definitely causing a buzz. Joe and I were pleased at her election, more because we like her policies than because of her sexuality, and realise that it was something we thought we'd never see.
Like I never thought I'd never see or even speak to the person attached to the voice on the phone.
We had a very stilted conversation. We touched words gently, like fingers feel their way around a bruise. The call wasn't long. In the end the voice says, "I think that her private life is her private life and if she can do the job, no one should care."
Was I supposed to applaud?
Was I supposed to break down in tears?
Was I supposed to feel an overwhelming rush of gratitude?
Apologies are odd things - they are given, usually as a means of getting. Forgiveness. Pardon. Mercy.
There are people that I have never apologised to, though I desperately wish to. I like the man I am now, though I still have areas to grow. I'm not so fond of the fellow I was through my 20's and early 30's. I didn't know how to BE me. I ended up being mean. I found the outsider roll very, very difficult. I realise as I write those words that it begins to sound like an excuse. I do not excuse the hurt I caused others. I do not believe that what happened to me allows me to 'happen' to you. Even so, I'm struggling here to say that I did things I regret and treated people in ways that simply aren't acceptable.
And I know that.
And I haven't dared to apologise.
I think the time is long past that.
For me, I think, that I have no right to ask for what apology expects. I'd like there to be a word to use other than "apology" that means - "I shouldn't have done what I did and I want you to know that I regret my actions - I however understand and respect that these feeble words will change nothing." But there isn't. So I haven't. Maybe I should. I don't know. But for now, at least, I have no wish to burden them with my apologies.
But after the call I got. I found myself more angered that comforted. So now? After you threw me out of you life? So now after you refused to let me even meet your children? So now after you told me that I was going to burn in hell and that God hated me ... and you don't even BELIEVE? So now ... NOW ... that you are in a place of your own personal growth, I'm supposed to welcome your acceptance?
Do you remember that, after you found out that I was, I think 'deviant' was your word, that you went through my life with a microscope? You commented on the fact that I drank beer - homo's are all alcoholics. You commented on the fact that I smoked - queer's don't care about their health. You commented on the facts that my friends died of AIDS - "fags get what fags deserve" you told me.
You think that Kathleen Wynne should be allowed to have a job, an important job.
Thank you, I suppose.
Maybe your apology made you feel better ... oh wait! You didn't actually apologise. What you did was to let me know that you thought her private life was her own. A statement of half hearted acceptance.
Maybe I'd feel better if you'd said, "I'm sorry."
Maybe there should be another word instead of apologise.
And maybe there should be another word instead of forgiveness.