Living Amends

By susanpeabody 11/27/17
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In 1982 I finally admitted that I was an alcoholic and got sober. In Alcoholics Anonymous I was introduced to the tweleve steps and wanted to make amends to my my son Karl and my daughter Kathy for neglecting them. Even as I write this I feel a lot of guilt. However, since recognizing what I did to them I have apologized and made what they call in 12-step programs a “living amends.” This means doing now what you would have done then if you could go back in time. With my daughter Kathy this process took on new meaning when she decided to have children, and little did I know when she got pregnant that I would soon have an opportunity to make a significant amends to her and begin to forgive myself.

In 1994, Kathy got pregnant. I was ecstatic. I wanted very much to be a grandmother and have a second chance at parenting. I knew Kathy and her husband Monty would make good parents and that the cycle of dysfunction would be broken by them. I wanted this more than anything in the world.

Early in June, three months before she was due, Kathy went into labor and did not even know it. She thought she was having a backache. By the time Monty rushed her to the hospital the baby’s little foot had started to come out. The doctor said that if the delivery could be delayed just too weeks the baby would have a chance. We prayed. We begged God. Monty even dreamed the baby would wait. On June 16, 1994, at 11:04 p.m. Jasmyne Marie Snyder was born. She weighed one and one-half pounds. Monty was too nervous to be in the operating room (Kathy had a cesarian) so I was there when little Jasmyne came out. She was perfect.

We watched over Jasmyne for fourteen days while she struggled to hang on. During this time, my heart ached for my daughter. The pain was as sharp as a knife. I had to ask God, “Why are you doing this? Kathy does not deserve this. Punish me. I am the one who failed at parenting. Give Kathy a chance to be a mother.” The waiting made me sick. Jasmyne sucked in the air of her ventilator. Her little swollen hand reached out to me. When she grabbed my hand it was as if she was pulling out a plug and tears came rushing out of me.

Jasmyne passed away on June 29, 1994. They took her off the ventilator and we all rushed down to the hospital chapel. Kathy couldn’t bear to be there and asked me if I would stand in for her. I was afraid, but I had to do this for my daughter. The doctor, pastor, nurse, Monty, and I all sat side-by-side. We each held her in turn. A moment after she was placed in my arms she stopped breathing. I was the last one to be with her on this earth. Later, Kathy told me how grateful she was. It was at that moment that I felt I had finally made my amends to her and for the first time I could really begin to forgive myself.

And yet this was the only beginning. Later Kathy went on to have two more daughters. Then she passed away.  I am able to love her daughters in a way I was unable to love her when I was so young and distracting by my alcoholism. In AA, we call this making "living amends." This is when you do for others what you had wished you had done when you had the chance.

Despite all this one is never completely release from what AA calls “wreckage of the past.” My son-in-law informed me at the funeral that I had really hurt Kathy with my drinking and that I could never see them again. I was heartbroken but I accepted his decision.

There is always a silver lining and for me it was my son Karl. He forgave me for my drinking and when I lost my home took me into his. Today I live in a cottage next to his home and everyday we talk about everything under the sun. Together we are healing. As he forgives me I am able to forgive myself.

Why do I tell you this? I want you to know that even when you make a mistake as a a parent their is always a brighter tomorrow. If you ask for forgiveness it will be granted to you when the time is right. But there is a condition. You must forgive others and go on to make living amends by helping others in your life. When it comes to my past alcoholism, I am beginning to feel better about myself even though my sorrow lingers and always will. Still each day is another opportunity to get it right and that is all I can do. As they say, "I shall forget the past and yet not shut the door on it."

Jasmyne Marie Snyder

The smell of jasmine is in the air,
And I think of my precious grandchild,
Who will live in my heart forever,
Whose memory blows over me at will,
Like a warm summer's breeze.
And I know not whence it comes
Or whither it goes.
But I suppose
It goes where love abides.

Dedicated to . . .

Jasmyne Marie Snyder
June 16, 1994 - June 29, 1994

Kathleen M. Snyder
January 12, 1969 - June 2, 2010

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