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Introduction: Apologies

He looked at his feet for a few moments, and then he looked up and continued talking.  

“Not long after Jamie and I were married,” Landon began, “and actually starting awhile before that, she started getting visits from people.   Oh we got plenty of people dropping by to wish us well, including lots of people around town that she had only met once or twice.”

Landon stopped again and closed his eyes briefly, as if gathering his thoughts.

“Then there were the others.  People who were there for more than just well-wishing.  And no, I’m not talking about my mom and Jamie’s dad,” he said with a soft chuckle, “although they were around a lot too.  I’m talking about… well… the people who came by to apologize.  More than I would have expected, and definitely more than Jamie expected to see.  People from high school who had teased her, and even those who made fun of her in junior high but stopped in high school came to our house.”

He glanced down again, remembering those days with Jamie.

“I was pleased, in a sense, to see my old high school buddies all come by.  Eric was the one who started it all.  Then came the others: Belinda, Tracie, and even Dean.   They had all apologized to me before, when they found out that I was honestly in love with Jamie.  But seeing them there, patching things up between Jamie and them, it made me feel good inside.  Something was missing though.  As the summer passed by, I still couldn’t figure it out.  I knew there was something out there, beckoning, but I just wasn’t able to put my finger on it no matter how hard I tried.  Then, the day that Dean came to apologize, it hit me.  Right as he was walking out the door.”

Landon lifted his face and managed a small smile.

“I needed to apologize too.”

Forever was in Your Eyes

July 1996

“Landon, is something wrong?” Jamie asked, her eyes staring at him inquisitively.

She had just walked Dean out the front door, and when she turned around she saw Landon just sitting in the living room with an almost blank look on his face.  ‘It’s kind of odd,’ Jamie thought to herself.  ‘He’s usually the one asking me if something is wrong.’  But she logged that thought in the back of her mind and turned her attention back to Landon.

“Huh, oh, it’s nothing sweetie.  Don’t worry about me,” Landon replied.  He had fallen so deep into thought that he didn’t realize Jamie had shut the door already.

Landon got up and hugged Jamie close to him, as if reassuring her again.

“I’m fine, really.  And honestly, you have enough to worry about without having to deal with me and my moments”

“Okay Landon, but you know I worry about you anyways.”

“No no, really sweetheart.  I’m doing just fine.  Are you up for something to eat?”

“Hmmm… maybe a little bit,” Jamie said with a smile on her face.

     As he was doing the dishes after dinner, Landon’s mind raced.  He couldn’t believe himself for not thinking of it sooner.  Of course he had to apologize!  After all, people who barely even knew Jamie were coming by to say they were sorry.  Why wouldn’t her own husband have even more of a reason to tell her how sorry he was for all the things cruel things he had done to her in school?  Landon knew he was probably only going to get one shot at apologizing to Jamie, so he began thinking back as far as he could remember.  All the way back to kindergarten, when he had first met Jamie Sullivan.  He tried his best to remember every detail, everything he had ever done to Jamie that he regretted.  Every word, every action. 

It hurt him to recall how unjust he was to the girl who would eventually become the love of his life.  Tears came to his eyes as he stood over the kitchen sink, the spatula in his hand half-forgotten.  Landon held back the tears, telling himself that Jamie deserved this from him more than anyone else in the world.  ‘Jamie is worth the pain,’ Landon reminded himself.  ‘She’s worth more to me than everything I’ll ever have in this world.’  He continued to think, making a mental note of everything he had done that required an apology.  He didn’t hear Jamie come up behind him, and he didn’t realize she was there until she wrapped her arms gently around his waist.

“Hey honey, are you all good to go here?” Jamie whispered into his ear.

Landon turned his head, smiling.  “Yeah, the dishes are all set.  What do you say we turn in early tonight?”

“As long as you’re there with me, I’d love it.”

Landon didn’t fall asleep immediately that night.  Instead, he lied awake and watched Jamie sleep.  He watched as the moonlight shone through the window and danced off her skin.  He smiled, marveling at her beauty, a beauty that never ceased to amaze him.  Those were the images that drifted across his mind’s eye as he finally let sleep overtake him.

August 4, 1996

After attending church, Landon helped Jamie upstairs to their bedroom.  Her time was winding down, and they both knew it.  Jamie insisted, however, that she continue to live her life like normal.  That included going to church.  After they had changed out of their Sunday clothes, Landon took Jamie’s hand and led her to the bed.  He indicated for Jamie to sit down, which she did.

“Jamie, sweetie, I need to talk to you,” Landon began nervously.

“About what Landon?”  Even then, Jamie’s voice never lost that innocent, inquisitive shimmer.

“I…. ah, I need to apologize.”

“Why sweetheart?  You haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Yes, I have… I need to apologize for all the mean things I did to you in the past.”

“Oh Landon… you know I’ve already …”

“No, Jamie, please.  Just hear me out on this.  Please.  Because if I don’t do this, and you leave me… I don’t think I could ever live with myself.”

Jamie was silent, but she smiled at Landon and nodded.

Landon sighed and continued. “I guess I should start at the very beginning.  And I mean the very, very beginning.  I’m sorry for teasing you and for being a little punk when we were in kindergarten.  I was wrong for making fun of you when you prayed.  I’m sorry, when we were in elementary school…”

And so Landon continued.  He apologized for all the little things he had ever done, for every single time he had made fun of her.  He went all the way from their past to the present.  As he drew nearer and nearer to their senior year, his eyes began to fill with tears.

“I’m sorry for pretending that I knew you, that I understood who you were.  I’m sorry… for all the things I said to you our senior year.  When you asked me if it would kill me to try, and I told you that ‘I’m too young to die’, or when you told me that without suffering there would be no compassion and I said you should ‘Tell that to those who suffer’, I didn’t know what I was talking about.  I was so wrong Jamie.  I didn’t know… but even then I shouldn’t have said the things I said.  I assumed too much, I pretended like I was someone I wasn’t.  I’m sorry for blowing you off in front of the lockers, and I’m sorry for being ashamed to be seen with you.  I was such a fool!  I spent my life looking for that right girl who would make me feel special and complete.  And all this time, you were right in front of me.  You were only a few blocks down the street.  And I looked right by you.  If I had only known…”

Landon broke down, and fell to his knees in front of Jamie as he sobbed.  “Please Jamie, please forgive me.  I’ve been such a terrible person… I don’t deserve you.”

Landon looked up, and through teary eyes he saw tears slip down Jamie’s face.  She reached down to him, and gently pulled him up to her.  Jamie wrapped her arms around him and they both wept together.  Landon looked at her face again, and when he saw the tears running from her lovely eyes…

It was almost like…

Strong Enough

“It was like my forever, my eternity, was in her eyes.  I knew that at that moment, even though Jamie had forgiven me long before, I needed to hear her tell me that I was forgiven.  I needed to hear her say that everything was okay.”

Landon stopped talking, as tears again flowed down his cheeks.  He tried to continue, without looking up.

“I’m just lucky that she forgave me.  She looked at me, and said in that same loving voice ‘It’s alright Landon, I forgive you.  I forgave you so long ago.  I love you with all my heart, and you know I never stayed mad at you.’  We just sat there in the room for awhile, holding each other and crying onto each others’ shoulders.  It was at that moment that I felt like I really became whole.  God had given me this wonderful woman, she had accepted me, and she had forgiven me for all the terrible things I did to her.”

Landon gripped the edges of the lectern, and looked to his right… where Jamie lay in an open casket for her memorial service.

“And now, standing here, saying goodbye to Jamie… my wife… I understand that Jamie showed me everything.  She showed me what love really is.  The Bible says that love is always ready to excuse, and that’s how Jamie lived her life.  She never held grudges against anyone.  It was like… no one ever had to apologize to her for anything.  But if I told you Jamie taught me that love means never having to say you’re sorry, like some people have told me, I wouldn’t be capturing Jamie’s full understanding of love.  Because even though Jamie never held grudges, she never hesitated to say she was sorry to other people.”

He turned now, to face the casket.  “Jamie, you’ve shown me more and opened my heart to more than I ever would have imagined.  Thank you for your love, and for your kindness.  You see, I understand now.  I know now that love means more than just never having to say you’re sorry.  Love means being strong enough to forgive… and it means being strong enough to say you’re sorry.”