Do you ever wonder the purpose of apology?
Sometimes I do.
There is a fellow who comes to visit his girlfriend, a very pretty young woman, who lives a few floors up from our apartment. He's a handsome man and together they make a striking couple. I've never really liked his girlfriend, I find her cold. I've never been sure what it is that she doesn't like about me, weight, disability, sexuality. She is only marginally nicer to Joe so I think maybe it's a combination of things.
We've seen them together a number of times. He, unlike his paramour, will say 'hello' if the circumstances arise and on rare occasions has chatted about the weather. However, he never, ever, speaks when the two of them are together.
So be it.
Well the other day he was in the lobby of the apartment building, a little distraught. He was carrying a single rose and was about to dial her entry code. He saw us, recognized us, and we let him in.
We rode up in the elevator with him and I asked if he was 'OK'. He said that his girlfriend had recently had a miscarriage and they were both having a very difficult time. They were planning to move in together and start a family. Now, well, now there seems to be nothing but hurt and disappointment.
I was surprised that he was so open and so talkative but I guess at that moment we were like passengers on a bus. When the door opened and we moved to get off, I held the door for a moment and spoke to him seriously about how people respond to tragedy like this, "don't look to assign blame," and "if either of you need to be angry, be angry at the situation, at the fates, but don't be angry with each other." He listened quietly.
Just before I got off he said, "You are a very kind man. Thank you. I apologize for all the jokes that we have made about you. We should never have done that. You have a big heart."
I had not known that they had made jokes at my expense. I'm not entirely surprised, it's not uncommon.
It's clear that at that moment he was feeling grateful and as I had gifted him with time he wanted to give me something as well.
I'd have been good if he'd just said 'thanks.'
I'd have been good if he just decided at that moment that we would no longer joke and make fun of people who look like me or move like me or love like me.
I'd have been good if his apology had been deep ... and silent.
I think he meant to give me a gift.