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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I've had a few, but then again...too few to mention. I wish these words from the song "My Way" were more true. I have a lot of regrets and probably spend way too much time wondering, "What if....?"

A young man (Bobby) who went to school with my youngest son, Chris, died last weekend. Chris became friends with Bobby, because they were both on the school's bowling team, Bobby spent some time with us at our house, and since Du helped coach their bowling team, we grew to know Bobby quite well. I also was friends with his Mom. Bobby was her only child and she was divorced from Bobby's dad. I know her life revolved around her son. Of course it has been a few years, and we've all lost contact since graduation, although I think Chris had run into Bobby occasionally in his various bowling leagues. Chris was really shocked to learn about his friend's passing. I was aware Bobby had some health problems back when we knew him, I recall his mother mentioning that Bobby had some congenital heart/breathing problem, might have been Cystic Fibrosis. But for Chris, who has not had a lot of experience with loss in his 27 years, it was especially hard to lose someone his age. At that age, you think you are invincible, and it is always shocking when you find out you are not. When Chris got home from a long work trip to Kansas City last night, we were talking about Bobby. Chris feels bad that his last encounter with Bobby several years ago was not an especially good memory, Chris had been angry that Bobby gave him some bad advice that led to Chris's car being towed. Now Chris regrets that their last encounter was not a good one.

Du said, "You just never know when it's going to be the last time you see someone." And that made me think about the sudden death of my mom, nearly 23 years ago. I have gone over our last meeting. a few weeks before she died, so many times in my head. And I am so grateful that when I left her house that day, I gave her a hug (she had dieted recently, and I remember thinking when I was hugging her that she was very small), and told her I loved her.

We don't speak those words often enough to those we love. Several people have told me to leave no words unspoken between Du and I. I try not to. I tell him I love him about 100 times every day. I try to spend every moment I can with him. For a person who wanted to retire and sleep in every morning, I am now getting up at 5:30 with him, making his breakfast (a healthy omelet), and fixing his lunch, as well as spending a little more time with him, before he leaves for work. I know someday I will wish I could still get up with him and talk to him and I dread that day. I'm trying to do everything I can to avoid any regrets later, but I know I will still have some. Isn't that the way we are built? We don't know what we've got til it's gone.

I ran into my friend while out shopping this weekend. She is the one who lost her husband 8 weeks ago. (She told me that--she couldn't believe it's already been 8 weeks.) I wrote earlier about his funeral and the shock at his death. He had Stage Four lung cancer, but was doing well with his treatment. Unfortunately, he never recovered after surgery in January, surgery which showed no more evidence of cancer! She told me, they didn't know they were going to lose him until the day he died, they all expected him to get better and come home for at least a few more years. I'm sure during the months they battled the disease, she had endless opportunities to tell him how she felt. She relayed to me how she had gone to her son's home, who lives out of state, last weekend. She said, "I DROVE there for the first time." She said, "He always drove....and when I stopped at our rest stop, I looked over at the donut stand nearby and thought sure I would see him walking towards me, to get one of his favorite donuts." I can't even imagine her pain. And I know as much grief as I feel now, it will be hundreds of times harder after my Du is gone.

So today I try to treasure every second of this somewhat normal life we still have, at least for this moment. I know too soon his health will start deteriorating, he will grow weak and sick and I dread the very thought of that. It's hard to just grab hold of every little bit of life as it slips away though. I remember a scene from the play, "Our Town." Du was the Stage Manager (a major role) in that play back in high school and I fell in love with it (and him). The young girl, Emily, who has died in childbirth, asks the Stage Manager to go back to her life for just one day. He lets her go, and tells her to pick an unimportant day. She picks the day of her 12th birthday. But when she goes back she is so frustrated by her family's lack of caring, by their disinterest in the wonderfulness of life. They are just behaving normally, going about the everyday tasks of life. She finally finds it too painful, and realizes just how much life should be valued, "every, every minute." Poignantly, she asks the Stage Manager whether anyone realizes life while they live it, and is told, "No. The saints and poets, maybe – they do some." So that's what I'm trying to do right now---realize that every second of this life is WONDERFUL. It's hard, but I don't want to have regrets...
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Such good advice. Cherish every moment with our loved ones like it could be our last. In all actuality we really don't know if it is our last. Life (and death) always takes us by surprise. In the same manner we always need to be ready to meet our God.
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  • CANNIE50
    It's so good that you are taking the time, now, to do all those thoughtful things, to say the words you will never regret saying, and spend the time you will never regret spending. I have a philosophy - "if I like you, or love you, you will certainly know it because I will definitely tell you!" Some people are uncomfortable with this, but I forge ahead because I don't want to live with easily avoidable regret. You are a shining example, Pam.
    1760 days ago
    emoticon Thank you for taking the time to write a beautiful but painful blog.
    1760 days ago
  • RUNGRL2013
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    1760 days ago
    emoticon for the very true blog. Your Du is a very smart man and it is true that we never know when it is the last time we will see someone. It is good to live life so you have less regrets, still you will inevitably have some. But with the way you are handling things with your Du, I think there won't be many besides that he is no longer with you. Enjoy every day you have with him so those memories can strengthen you in the future emoticon
    1760 days ago
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  • NEWME654
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings. They really make me think...
    1760 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    Your blog made me think about when I was young and my mother always said that you should never say goodbye in anger or go to bed angry. When my husband and son would leave for the day or go on a trip, I made sure to tell them I loved them and that they felt cared for. My husband and I have never gone to bed angry in our 30 years of marriage. I know what you mean about regret. You don't want to look back and think you should have done everything differently.

    And I do think it's important for the two of you to spend time with each other now and I don't think you should look back with regret.
    1760 days ago
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  • KERRYG155
    You're right in that we never know when our last day will be. Seems like every time I turn around someone is suddenly gone. I was about 27 when my cousin died-we weren't close but it was still a shock.
    1761 days ago
  • DOODIE59
    Very beautiful words. The blessing for us is that you have shared them with us so that we will learn from your lessons. Thank you.
    Deirdre emoticon
    1761 days ago
    What you have said here is sad, but true. I would like some do-overs with several people I loved and lost, and you do not get them. One is that I had meant to call my dad the day before he died suddenly...but then I thought "Oh, I will get to talk to him on Sunday" (Our weekly check in) By that Sunday we had planned his funeral. I am haunted by that. And there are a few others. You may not get a chance to do or say what you want, so do it now.
    1761 days ago
    With my Mom, it was important to me to tell her the things I wanted her to know before she died. Since I was sick and afraid i wouldn't get that chance for fear of making her sick and shortening her life even more, I wrote her a letter with all those thing I wanted to say. I was fortunate enough to be able to visit with her on the last day she was conscious and also be able to hug her one more time.

    For me, no regrets was making sure my loved one knew how much she meant to me. 8 years later, the only regret I have is not knowing then the things i long to ask her now. I can live with that one. Enjoy each day with your loved one. You and your family are in my prayers!
    1761 days ago
    emoticon And you only have so long and make it count! emoticon
    1761 days ago
    Thank you for sharing. With your permission, you and Du are in my prayers daily. emoticon
    1761 days ago
    Your blog made me cry. I do believe regret is the WORST of all emotions. I lost my mom suddenly and I do have regrets about wishing I'd spent more time with her and all the things I wish I could ask her and tell her. I don't think we ever lose someone without having SOME regrets, but I had a lot less when I lost my dad because I made a real effort not to. You are getting the chance to do the same with your beloved husband, and do believe that's a blessing.

    We did "Our Town" when I was in high school. I don't think it meant as much to me as a teenager as it would now. Thanks for reminding me.
    1761 days ago
  • CC3833
    This is great! I really needed the wake up call. Life is just so unexpected. Yesterday is the past, today is a present, and tomorrow is never promised. Thanks again! Me and my bf say I love you once in the AM when we leave for work, every time we get off the phone, when we get home from work, and before we go to bed... even when we are mad at each other. My parents always used to say "I don't like you right now...but I love you." And I try to live my life like that...
    1761 days ago
    Du stated one of the few certainties in life: you never know when you might be seeing someone for the last time. Live and love in the moment, and if one has something to say, say it. We will always have regrets later, "what if" things that we'll always wonder about. It's all part of life.

    Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

    1761 days ago
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