There have been a few days in my life when out of nowhere an apology arrived. Not for missing a meeting or saying a curt word, but for something much bigger and deep seated.
I once reconnected with an old friend after a fallout caused us to not speak to each other for over a decade. In my heart I had long since gotten over any anger or resentment that had once existed, and my only goal was renewing the friendship that had previously been so fabulous.
In one of our first email exchanges after all those years, she apologized for all that had gone down between us (I'm paraphrasing here). I neither expected nor needed an apology from her. She had been globally forgiven years before. It surprised me so much to read it that I didn't know what to do with it. I actually felt bad that she felt she needed to apologize. But it does speak volumes about what a wonderful person she is.
Another even more unexpected apology came from an old boyfriend with whom I'd shared a tumultuous relationship that spanned the emotions from "awesomely perfect" to "how could my life be any worse?" Several years after we'd parted ways and both found and married our respective true loves, he found me on Facebook and promptly apologized for treating me so badly way back when. He said, "You didn't deserve to be treated like that." (yeah, no kidding!) He assured me that he had his head on straight now and was 'towing the line' or some other platitude. There were no strings attached to it, no favor requested. It was just a sincere apology, delivered genuinely and without prompting (and seriously out of character).
There was a real sense of redemption in these offerings. Even when you've already released the anger/resentment from yourself and have learned from the experience and let it go...a sincerely delivered apology, even long after it was needed, does succeed in bringing some peace to the world.
I don't know what triggered the need for these two friends to come to me like that, or how long they'd felt the need to do so, or even the specific events that stuck in their minds as needing correction. It didn't feel proper for me to ask. I felt it was my place to graciously accept what they offered, and move forward.
I don't think it's ever too late to apologize. You can't be sure how it will be received, but a genuine effort does mean something very real.