Thistle (thistle_chaser) wrote,

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How do you get forgiveness from a dead man?

About twelve years ago, my (divorced) mother was dating a man who lived in New York City. We lived on Long Island at the time, which was an hour or two outside of the city. I didn't have any strong feelings for him either way.

When summertime arrived and I needed a job, my mother suggest that I go be a dog walker in the city. I could stay with him and work out of his apartment. Partially because I liked dogs and partially because this seemed like a much, much easier thing than getting a "real" job, I agreed.

As anyone who reads my LJ knows, I'm not a people person -- this isn't something new in my personality: even when I was a toddler, my mother could never get me to play with others. I like being alone, and I need space to myself. Living in a one bedroom apartment with a man I didn't even know well was not a really great situation for me. However, to his credit, he did everything he could to make me comfortable. The living room pretty much became my bedroom, and he paid all the rent and didn't ask me to do anything except buy my own food. (He didn't just do this because he was a kind man, but he very much loved my mother.)

I had a really, really hard time that summer. Dog walking was much harder than it seemed (there were lots of year-round dog walkers already established, and even though I greatly undercut their prices, I made almost no money and couldn't barely feed myself). The living arrangements were the hardest thing, and though I wasn't a teenager at the time, I suspected I acted like one. I knew he was paying all of the rent and that I really should have been putting money towards that, but it was impossible for me. So instead of doing nice things like making dinner or something, I occasionally copped an attitude. On the rare occasion he asked me to do something for him, I put up a stink before doing it. I knew this wasn't the right way to act, but having no space or time to myself for that long just messed up my head and I wasn't acting the way I might otherwise act.

There were other things, like household common goods (such as toilet paper) getting used a lot faster, that I felt guilty about but that I couldn't change or correct. And when my mother came out on the weekends, I seriously begrudged her wanting alone time with him instead of wanting to spend all of her time with me. (Once outside of the situation, I can see how wrong that thinking was.)

Eventually the summer ended and I left the city. A couple months later he died alone in his sleep. I hadn't ever apologized to him for how I acted when he had been good enough to put me up (and put up with me) as a guest all summer. Twelve years ago, and I still feel guilty and sorry about it... but what good does that do now?
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