Peace from Broken Pieces: A Daughter’s Lesson in Forgiveness (in memory of Elwood Burwell, Jr.)

I didn’t grow up with my dad. I was raised by my mom in Gary, Indiana and dad wasn’t involved and/or present for my rearing. Now I don’t say these things to slander or speak ill of my dad, because I’m now aware, accept and acknowledge that pops did the best he could. One of my favorite quotes from Deepak Chopra says, “It helps if you remember that everyone is doing their best from their level of consciousness.”

About 3 years ago, I reached a low in my personal life and made the conscious choice to embark on a journey of healing. That healing process would eventually bring me face-to-face with long held judgments, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and projections. Through prayer, meditation, study and the Grace of God, I learned something that has forever changed me – HOW I SEE AND HOLD MYSELF, IS HOW I SEE AND HOLD OTHERS, IS HOW I SEE AND HOLD GOD. For there is no separation. My brother and I are one and both of us are Children of God created in His likeness and image. So if I’m walking around bitter, angry, resentful and hating my dad, then I’m bitter, angry, resentful and hate God! Whoa! Something about hating God didn’t sit too well with me. So in that moment, I knew that getting right with God meant getting right with dad. It was time to release the old, tired abandonment story that no longer served me; that was mired with pain. It was time to Forgive.

Dad was hospitalized the two months leading up to his passing. Fortunately, I got to be by his side daily and say everything I ever wanted to say. I expressed myself authentically – sadness, disappointment, hurt, everything…. I cried. I told dad what I needed and desired from him. No stone was left unturned and whether he wanted to hear it or not, I said it! But in doing so, I experienced a level of intimacy and connection that I’m challenged to give language to: when I held his hand, I felt an unfamiliar yet desirable warmth and strength; when I hugged him, although his frame was frail, I felt the power in his arms as he held me as tight as he could; when I cried my heart out to him, although a proud, private man and not one to show too much emotion, he let every guard down, looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I’m so sorry, daughter.” Those 4 words, so simple, so sincere, yet filled with much fervor and conviction, I heard the voice and saw the face of God. In that moment, I experienced peace from broken pieces. And for that dad, I am so very and eternally grateful.

Genel Burwell