From very young, I can remember knowing I wanted to live my life with no regrets. Every single decision I made was meticulously thought out with how it would affect me or anyone I loved. I never wanted to look back and say “I wish I had….” but that is not realistic I guess. I have many regrets, but I like to reframe it and say “I wish it had been different.”
One of my biggest regrets overall is not listening closer to our older generation. I have found them always to be a wealth of information and although I heard a lot of stories over the years, I didn’t retain them. If I knew what I knew now, I would sit with our parents and record every word because every syllable they uttered is now a treasure. When you are growing up with parents and grandparents, you are so used to hearing them tell the same stories, sometimes over and over. At that age it is probably more annoying than anything else. You really don’t realize that they are like finding a treasure in a diamond mine until the mine gone. If you listen closely, they have stories of survival, of hardship and of courage beyond compare.
If I could turn back time, time from Rick’s diagnosis to his last day with us, I would concentrate less on the illness and more on our life together. I wish I could have used that time for sitting together and holding hands. I wish I had told him how much our life together had meant to me. I wish I could have told him how proud he made me and how much it meant to me when he would say “You look pretty” every day when I was leaving for work and “I’m proud of you”. I wish I could have used those 52 days for being grateful and expressing that gratitude. I wish I had used that time to thank him for all the times he stood by me, always being my rock even though some of those times he was crumbling inside. I wish we had talked about Heaven and when we would meet again. I know that the situation didn’t lend itself to this scenario, but it doesn’t erase the feelings that I wish that time could have been different. Instead it was filled with doctors, medicines, equipment and everything he hated. That part makes me sad.
I had much the same feeling when Lindsey died. I wish I hadn’t been out of town. I wished she hadn’t been in and out of the hospital with no answers each and every time. I wish I had told her how much I admired her strength tolerating the poking and prodding, test after test, the continuous decline in her health and all the while, she never gave up. I wish we had talked about our wonderful family more and the devastating illness less. I wish I had talked to her more about things that mattered and not just things. I guess in a way, I did, but when you don’t have that time anymore it leaves a lot of doubt.
My mom, my best friend, my confidante, my rock, had such a difficult life, but you would have never known it. She was tough as nails and she taught me lessons I didn’t even know I learned. I wish I had thanked her for being my mom. I wish I had told her how proud she made me. I wish I had used her last days with me talking about the “old days”. I wish I had written it all down, because in the whole scheme of things, those things are more precious than gold. Mom’s last days were filled with pain and I wish she hadn’t endured that, but as I said before, the situation wasn’t one we could control.
So regrets are part of the process of navigating the maze and moving toward Hope and a different future than you had planned. Regrets are also often associated with that awful “guilt” we feel. One thing I learned is to reframe my thinking and in the principles of the Grief Recovery Method, its a matter of wishing things were different, better or more. I wish all of this had been different, but I was not and am not the author of this story. I was just fortunate enough to have been a character in one of the greatest novels of my time…