My parents got married on this date 60 years ago.
My dad only lived to see 27 of those years, but every year we quietly mark what might have been, could have been. There is a hole where that particular form of happiness and completeness would be. Here’s to the kind of love that makes pain possible. Here’s to understanding after all these years that death ends a life, not a relationship. Here’s to owning our own grief and loss, to embracing what is, honoring what was, and loving what will be.
My father missed seeing me become an adult. He missed my college graduation. He missed seeing me fall in love, get married, have his grandchildren. He missed so much. And my mother and brother missed him being there for all their milestones, and much more. And yet, we’ve carried him with us everywhere we have gone.
The first Thursday of every month in 2013, I’m hosting a “First Thursday Chat” on my Facebook page. We gather to chat as a community about a different question each month. In February, our discussion centered around this question: “For what or for whom do you grieve?”
My friend Shelley Drabik reflected to me afterward something I believe so important for us to recognize: “To me, grief, fear, and regret are very different and distinct states: grief will diminish (emotional reaction to loss recedes as the vacancy becomes part of the new normal), fear can be overcome (action disproves the assumptions that cause the fear), but regret is often merely suppressed (because it is linked to an intentional bad choice that can’t be undone). Healing one’s soul from the stain of intentional wrongdoing may be impossible for someone with enough of a soul to feel true regret.”
Regret can come in waves over us for the slightest misstep. My mother still wishes that she had said “yes” instead of “no” when my father asked her for a piece of Shoney’s strawberry pie during his last hospital stay. He died the next day. That piece of pie holds a heartful of regret in it.
I think regret is one of the most powerful human emotions.
What do you think? Leave a comment below so we can learn as a community.