Once, when I was much younger, I was working with someone who had become a friend of mine. She was a heavy girl. We were joking around one day, laughing, and I said to her "you big fat liar!" As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I wanted to shove them back in. It was a remark, a common thing I might say to someone, but to her, it had to hurt so badly. And I didn't mean it that way, AT ALL. She was my friend, and I could have cared less how much she weighed or if she had seven eyeballs. She and I were friends long past that thoughtless comment, but I can't ever forget that I said that. Never.
However, I was in conversation with someone who I like very much and we only see each other twice, maybe three times a year, as our husbands are co-workers. She mentioned that her husband's brother had been killed in a motorcycle accident. I immediately inquired about it and asked how come I didn't know that, like, "oh my goodness, you would think that I would have heard about it" She looked at me like I was crazy. "Don't you remember, you took care of our nephew right after his father had been killed and we were working out custody issues?" was the jist of the response. I took care of that sweet boy for nearly two weeks, helped this family out in a huge time of need, and I'd completely forgotten.
We helped another friend of my husband's out after he'd been badly injured. Every time his wife and I are in the same room, she finds a way to bring up how much we helped them. I forget, until she reminds me. It's clearly something that she thinks about often, but it doesn't even cross my mind. We did what we should have done in the situation, and we moved forward. If we were in the position that she and her husband were in, I am confident she would be the first to come forward and help.
But, how is it that I can't find it in me to forgive myself for a thoughtless comment, and get mad at myself about it ten years later, but can't remember doing something good for someone not even two years later?