“All those bad feelings, we wasted so much time being angry at each other, and I don’t know why I didn’t forgive her sooner.”
“You loved your mama. Despite everything, you still love her. Why else would you be so mad at her for so long? It’s because she mattered.”
– Scarlett O’Connor & Gunnar Scott, Nashville
Season 4, Episode 3, “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye”
Gunnar says this to the woman his most major romantic interest, Scarlett, right after she loses her mother. Said mother was not remotely anything like a paragon of maternity, being petty, spiteful, jealous, both verbally and physically abusive. She was, basically, one of the worst and most useless characters ever on Nashville. Her daughter had every right to be angry with her for years on end, which she was. The very worst thing she ever did was to abandon her own brother to die of cancer, rather than undergo surgery which would save his life, and act which forever severed the family bond between them all.
And yet, she also came back, and gave not only an organ, but, due to complications, her life. She woke up, briefly, just long enough to truly apologize to her daughter, reconciling just a little bit with the family she’d pushed away. Then she died, and in spite of all the grief she’d caused them, her family still loved her enough to grieve. Her final moment were proof that they could have left the past behind, they could have forgiven each other, had more time together. Instead, they have a lifetime of sorrow and anger.
It’s always a tragedy to lose time with one’s family, even more when that loss is due to simple anger. It can be so difficult to let go, even after so many years.
Why is it so difficult?
Because they matter.
The people we love matter.
Our parents, our siblings, our friends, our children, they matter, and thus so do the feelings, the joys, the sorrows, and the disputes we share with them. That’s why it’s so difficult to forgive, but also why it’s so important.
Nobody goes around for years carrying grudges with strangers or even casual acquaintances. Or at least, no one sane does that. Those people may have value to us as people, but not as family. For someone to hurt us that deeply within our hearts, they need to have access to it. We need to have opened up those emotional depths for people to reach them, and no one can reach deeper than family.
Speaking for myself, there are very few people who can reach so deep into my heart as my mother. Fortunately, while we, like anyone, have had our disagreements, I have never felt on the point of alienation. She and my father raised my sisters and I to know, you look after family. You don’t go hurting them, you protect them. You mess with my family, you mess with me. I learned that by example.
I have also learned in the intervening years that I was exceptionally blessed to have my parents, and my family. They have always protected, supported, and taught me. I am eternally thankful for that.
My mother matters to me, and not despite any particular flaws or disputes or anger. She matters to me, plain and simple, and I know I matter to her.
So, Mom… Happy Mother’s Day!
I love you!