It was a typical night for me as a 9 year old. I walked around outside of the house to say hello to my precious pets, a cocker spaniel, Aladdin, especially close to me. Behind the fence with him followed a rowdier larger adolescent dog, Chico. As I opened the latch to the fence, Chico excitedly pushed me and I lost my grip, swinging the fence open. With dread, I watch them make their way across the street. This happened before, but for some reason I felt knots in my stomach. Distraught, I called for them to come back, heading in their direction. I see Chico running towards me and I feel relief, as Aladdin tails not too far behind him. The impending doom became a reality. As fate would have it on that dark cool night, a speeding car comes up the street colliding with Aladdin as he headed in my direction. I heard a loud screeching sound and a yelp, my heart dropped. Aladdin limped his way to me and laid in my arms. I called out for someone, I remember my parents rushing outside. My mind went blank in a blur. I experienced loss for the first time. My best buddy that I’ve shared so many moments with tragically ended in an instant.
Guilt, anger, sadness surrounded me in the weeks that followed. “Could it be my fault?” “Had I done something differently, would he still be here?” My inexperience with these new thoughts and emotions made it difficult to handle. Not only did I blame myself but also the driver. Questioning why that night, why that moment, why did he choose to speed up my street. The quiet street, empty most nights.
Some time after the incident my Grandma called me out to the living room, “Someone came here to speak to you” she said. Once I realized who stood there, a burning feeling came onto me, like my blood boiling under my skin. The perpetrator, the driver, how dare he show his face to me. “No, I don’t want to hear what you have to say, Murderer!” I belted then made my way to my bedroom and slammed the door shut as hard as I could. Usually I’d fear reprimand when even attempting to speak to an adult that way, but outrage overtook any other concern. Later I found out that he came to apologize. He expressed to my parents, since I refused to listen to him, that his worst nightmare had been to take a pet from a child, and how remorseful he felt. I caught myself being cynical, thinking in that case he shouldn’t have been driving so fast. After some thought, I realize his gesture did count for something, that it may have taken some courage to come over and attempt an apology. He owned up to his offense, less can be said for other people. At this time I learned one of the most important lessons in my life, forgiveness. Not only the act itself but the purpose of absolution. To forgive the driver did not benefit him alone, but myself as well. Releasing all the resentment and guilt I hung onto so tightly felt like a heavy fog finally lifted. Replacing the anger, freeing me to remember my beloved pet with cherished memories instead.