Chapter 23 Summary
“The Twelfth Tuesday: We Talk About Forgiveness” opens with Albom massaging Morrie’s ankles. Although Morrie cannot move his legs, they still give him pain. Albom is grateful to be able to alleviate that pain through massage. Although it might once have bothered him to touch Morrie, he has overcome his inhibitions and would now do anything to please his old professor.
Morrie is eager to tell Albom about the importance of forgiveness. His latest aphorism is “Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.” Morrie illustrates his point by pointing to a bronze bust in his study. Albom has never noticed the sculpture before, but it actually a bust of Morrie in his 40s. Morrie explains that he spent weeks posing for the sculpture while his friend Norman made it in his basement. Albom notices that Norman captured Morrie’s whimsical spirit. Morrie explains that although the sculpture represents how close he and Norman were to each other, they later fell out. Morrie’s wife, Charlotte, was seriously ill and hospitalized; although Norman knew, he never phoned to ask after her. Consequently, Morrie and Charlotte not only dropped the relationship but Morrie also rebuffed Norman’s attempts to apologize and restore the relationship. Now, however, Morrie finds himself wracked with guilt for not having renewed their friendship before Norman died of cancer.
Morrie instructs Albom to forgive himself and others before he dies because not everyone will be lucky enough to know when their time is coming. Morrie offers a new and more positive interpretation of the “tension of opposites.” Up to this point, it has referred to the value conflicts that divide Albom. Morrie explains:
I mourn my dwindling time, but I cherish the chance that it gives me to make things right.
He concludes his session on forgiveness by telling Albom that if he could have had a third son, he would have wanted it to be Mitch. Although Albom at first wonders whether he is being disloyal to his own father, he discards the concern.
The chapter concludes with an anecdote in which Morrie explains where he wants to be buried. His preference is to be buried on a hill, under a tree, in front of a lake. Furthermore, he invites Morrie to continue visiting him to tell him his problems. Even if he cannot respond, Morrie promises that he will “give what I can.”