Spilt milk

This is the fourth day of the Love Blog Challenge,
hosted by the lovely BelleBrita.
Prompt for 2/6: Regret

broken-cooking-crack-33819When my first husband died, I was 38, my daughter was 12, and her 22-year-old half-brother, a college student, lived with us in an 80-year-old simple Victorian home. We loved that old place dearly.

We were well cared for, but trying to keep going when half of you is gone, well, that’s asking a lot of anyone.

My stepson missed his dad too much to put into words. They loved working together in the shop where they talked smart and made things with their hands. Even now, when I see him with his own kids or contemplating a design issue, I see the mark his dad left on his life.

I’ve always been thankful that my daughter made friends easily. When her dad died, those young girls helped sustain her through some dark days.

When Bill died, though, the dynamic of the house changed. Even though my stepson was a grown-up, he was still “one of the kids.” My daughter suddenly had a single mom, and I was suddenly both mom and dad. We had to learn all over how to navigate daily life.

Good golly, Miss Molly.

The grief was ever-present and it got the best of each of us, but usually at different times. My daughter may have had a good day at school while I was at home finishing up the last of Bill’s laundry or legal paperwork through tears. Her brother may have finished the house they were working on, but his sister may have stumbled across the first stuffed bear from her dad, and she’d be overwhelmed by a mighty rush of sadness. I might have had a lovely day with friends but came home to two young people overcome with a sense of despair and loss.

These days were the hardest any of us had ever known. While we felt as if the world had stopped turning, even our closest friends went back to a more normal life than we ever expected to regain. The grief was crushing and unyielding. And, even on our best days, we felt its persistent presence, lurking about, ready to reveal its sinister face when we least expected it.

It was during those difficult days, however, that I made the conscious and intentional decision to stiff-arm any feelings of regret. I refused to let it twist those wonderful years into an ugly pile of remorse. With any trace of If only I had…, I would force myself to recall a more beautiful moment or check in with a close friend.

Because even though I was young, I knew that what Grief wanted most from me was a sense of hopelessness, of knowing I could never go back and fix things, make amends, right the wrongs. Apologize. Ask forgiveness. It wanted me to just give in to regret.

I didn’t learn all the lessons I should have when married that first time. I make all the mistakes every other wife makes. I’m selfish and testy. I still want Tim, my husband of nineteen years, to read my mind. I give too many cold-shoulders when I should offer an embrace.

Yes, I do things that are regrettable.

But, I promise you, living with regret for things that are normal and human in a broken world full of mistakes and misunderstandings is senseless. Of course, there is nothing wrong with reflecting on how we would have, should have, and will do differently.

But if our reflections turn to remorse and regret, especially when there is no going back, no chance of making amends, and no future in beating ourselves up, we gain nothing.

My lovelies, I do not recommend not caring what people think. We can’t leave our friends and acquaintances bruised and bloody in our path, claiming the all-too-easy “well, that’s just the way I am.”

But crowding out sweet memories with bitter regret serves us badly. I won’t let remorse and self-imposed guilt ruin the memories I carry and will carry about the people I love.

2 comments

  1. I want to comment yet cannot find words. Your description of pain and grief tears at my heart. I cannot relate to living in that awful emptiness. However, living with a regret resonates with me. I will examine “self imposed guilt” at a whole other level. Regret does not serve anyone. It’s not how He wants us to live. I choose to examine, learn and look forward.

    Liked by 1 person

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