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...