35. Coming Full Circle

35. Coming Full Circle

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

Coming Full Circle

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.

~Paul Boese

I met Sara during preschool. I was three years old and she was four. We were kindred spirits, alike in so many ways — inseparable sisters who became family through our own self-created love.

But one thing that differentiated the two of us was the fact that my parents were still married, while her parents were divorced.

Jim and Teresa’s divorce had shocked everyone who knew them. They were high school sweethearts who married right after graduation. Then two years later, shortly after Teresa gave birth to Sara, Jim divorced her and moved to another state.

“Why did your father leave?” I’d asked Sara.

“I don’t know.” She shrugged her shoulders and flipped her ponytail like she didn’t care. But deep down I knew she did.

Although Sara did not see her father often, he called regularly, encouraged and rewarded her good grades, kept abreast of her activities, and provided the family with more than enough money. So in spite of the separation, she always felt he cared about her.

Teresa never discussed why she and Jim divorced. Family and friends reminisced about their once-passionate relationship. But Teresa’s bitterness was apparent.

During her freshman year of high school, Sara met Brad, a sweet, smart and handsome young man who eventually won over all of us. All except her mother — who objected when Brad proposed four years later.

Teresa repeatedly explained how painful marriage could be, especially at such a young age. She did not want to see her daughter go through the same hurt she’d experienced. Sara insisted she loved Brad, and their situation wasn’t the same as her mother’s. Defeated, Teresa accepted Sara’s decision to marry.

The day of Sara and Brad’s engagement party, the couple’s families and friends enjoyed meeting one another and celebrating the upcoming nuptials. Brad tried hard to entertain and talk to Sara’s mother in spite of her persistent coldness.

Toward the end of the evening, Sara’s dad startled everyone when he walked through the door. I watched Sara run across the room and throw herself into his arms. Surprisingly, even Teresa looked pleased.

After meeting Brad and congratulating the couple, Jim spotted his ex-wife and immediately went to her table. He kissed her cheek, gave her a lingering hug and sat beside her. The two talked away the evening.

The day of Sara and Brad’s wedding was magical. As maid of honor, it was my responsibility to tend to my best friend. As I straightened her veil, there was a slight knock at the dressing room door.

Teresa walked in and quietly gave Sara her blessing, apologizing for being so doubtful in the beginning. Then she admitted to Sara that she’d been in regular contact with Jim since the engagement party. They had done lots of talking and, for the first time, Jim explained why he’d left, apologized for his immaturity, his panic as a young parent and his wrongdoings. More importantly, he begged for forgiveness.

Teresa explained how this conversation helped her deal with the resentment she’d felt and the lonely void caused by his absence. After all these years, she discovered she still loved him. Thrilled with the reconciliation, mother and daughter embraced.

Sara’s father escorted her to the altar where she joined hands with Brad. Then Jim sat next to Teresa; they joined hands, too.

During the reception, everyone danced, ate and toasted the evening away. And Sara’s parents did not leave each other’s side. When a slow song began to play, Jim asked Teresa to dance. Suddenly he got down on one knee and took his ex-wife’s hand in his. A clamorous crowd circled the pair.

“I love you,” Sara’s father began, “and I need for everyone to know how sorry I am for what I did to you and our daughter.”

Sara’s mother couldn’t utter a word, because her other hand was covering her mouth in shock.

“And I want you to be my wife. Again. Will you marry me, Teresa?”

She pulled Jim into her arms.

In Sara’s eyes, that moment made her wedding day perfect. Not only did she marry the man she loved but, after eighteen years of hope, tears and prayers, her mother and father reunited. Like the wedding band her husband slipped on her finger, Sara felt like her life had come full circle.

 

~Denise N. Wheatley
Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul

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