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A Letter to the Little Girl

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November 7 • Day 123


Hello Little Girl,

You have been on my mind so much over the years since we met so long ago that I feel like I know you, but the truth is that I don’t know anything about you, not your name, not your age, and nothing about how your life has gone.

In my mind you will always be ‘that little girl,’ you’ll always be 3 or 4 years old, you will always be crying, you will always be a victim of my actions, you will always be the subject of so much grief and regret that I don’t know what to do. If only I could apologize and make amends to you for the harm my friend and I did to you that summer afternoon. Better yet, if only I could know that it didn’t mean anything to you, that you’ve gone on to live a healthy life full of love and success with no evidence of my childish and ignorant behavior.

But I don’t dare hope for that, so I seek your forgiveness from the depths of my soul, from a place that I don’t know how to reach on my own. And I seek that grace, knowing that you cannot give it to me directly, even if you would be willing to do just that.

I am sorry, Little Girl.

Saying that seems so hollow, yet so profound as it’s never even occurred to me to say that without you being able to hear it. My sorrow is deep and wide, but repentance seems so empty without follow-up. Why do I have a right to relief from my pain when your pain may well continue? Or maybe your pain has long-since worn you down, and you relieved it in destructive ways that inflicted me on your friends and family over the years.

How can I ask for this? I can’t answer that question, and yet I’m here to tell you of my shame and horror with the hope that somehow there can be a spiritual connection between us that allows you to ‘feel’ my apology, and for me to receive your forgiveness. Or at least your acknowledgment of my words and sadness for my behavior.

My daughter says, “Hi”, Little Girl.

No, she doesn’t know about you, but I want you to know that I have a beautiful daughter. I never forgot about you, and since the day my little girl was born, you have come to mind often. When she was your age, she reminded me of you more than once. When we learned of things that had been done to her — also by a boy in her neighborhood — your presence in my life became ubiquitous. You have been the reminder of all my realized fears for my daughter, of my fatherly failure to protect her, of my calculating karma as a reality, of my guilt.

She went through some tough times as a result of what happened to her — we all did — and I prayed for you often, that you had escaped such consequences. It was probably just so I would feel better about myself, but I genuinely thought of you with much concern and good wishes, with little reason to hope of such an outcome for you.

You have been my dirty little secret, Little Girl.

I’ve never told anyone the full truth about you and me and my nameless compadre until recently. You’ve always been close by but known only to me. Telling others about you, and about how what we did was my idea, has been terribly painful, yet somehow it’s been comforting at the same time. Even as I write this, it feels like you are being restored, that you are even more real. It feels like putting this on paper, that talking TO you instead of just ABOUT you, gives you a chance at life that I thought I had taken from you.

Reading that back sounds silly, but it feels real. While I cannot disregard the damage or harm I may have done to you, perhaps I have been content to put all that and more onto myself as some sort of penance, and that doing that has taken a childish act and blown it into felonious evil. I don’t know how to sort all that out, but I want so much for you to be well, and to forgive me. Maybe even laugh at me for allowing this to become such a thing in my life when maybe, just maybe, you don’t even remember it. My fears continue to lean toward something less happy than that, but I’m learning to hope and to at least not assume the worst. That’s a big step.

You can no longer belong to just me. I have to let you go, and there is guilt already forming around that thought. You don’t deserve to be let go, to be forgotten. You deserve the chance to grow up happy. But the best I can do now is to give you that chance in my thoughts and spirit, and hope to God that He has taken care of you and that someday we can both say to each other what needs to be said. Whatever it is.

I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I will miss you in my life.
Letting you go will help us both.

Goodbye, Little Girl.

-Johnny R

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