Regret is an ugly thing…maybe the ugliest. I know there is a saying about how you shouldn’t regret anything in your life because at one point it was exactly what you wanted, but I don’t agree. Those people who say that they don’t regret anything that has happened over the course of their lifetime…well, they are absolute liars. I find it extremely hard to believe that there is anyone out there who can say they truly regret nothing.I regret so many things that it blows my mind. Now don’t get it twisted…just because I regret things doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned from them. Some of my biggest regrets have been the biggest lessons for me.
What makes a regret a regret? Is it when we don’t get what we want? Or when our feelings were hurt? Or is it just something you wish didn’t happen? I tried to think of how I could best define a regret, and it had me thinking for awhile. I don’t really know what a good definition is.
Today I was cleaning my kitchen and came across the garbage drawer.You know the one…it holds all kinds of random things that you aren’t really sure where to put them but they hold some value to you. As I went through mine and wondered how I had accumulated so many strange things, something stuck out. It was a poem. A poem that, to me, is associated with one of the biggest regrets of my life. I remember coming across it as I had unpacked the first few days I was in my new apartment and knew I needed to put it somewhere special, but wasn’t sure where since my house was still in total disarray. So I temporarily put it in my garbage drawer.
The poem was given to me at a memorial service held in fall of 2011. I love/hate the poem so much that it still brings me to tears when I read it today. I love the beautiful, eloquent wording of it, but I hate what it means to me. The service was for a very important person in my life, Seel, who died last August on a gloomy Saturday morning. I had left that morning with my friend Dorothy to go to Columbus to see Seel for what we believed would be the last time. I knew his cancer had taken an ugly turn and it was only a matter of time. We were 15 minutes away from the home where Seel was staying with his sister when we got the call that he had died. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Seel and the role he played in my life. For a long time I felt a lot of regret about how things ended. I wondered if I had gotten ready sooner or if I would’ve avoided the long line at Starbucks that morning if it wouldve made a difference. Maybe it was just his time. The week before he died, I wrote Seel a long letter letting him know how much he meant to me. I don’t know why I felt the need to…maybe I knew deep down I would never get to tell him myself. He was such an amazing person to so many and overcame so many obstacles during his 70+ years on this planet. People like that aren’t something you find everyday.
It took me a long time to get past the regret I felt about not getting to Seel’s in time to say goodbye, but I felt good knowing I said what I needed to say. That regret taught me so much. I know I need to make sure that those who I care about know what they mean to me. Seel had been sick for a long time, but tomorrow is guaranteed to no one. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and know that someone left this Earth without knowing how much they meant to me…be it a family member, friend, or romantic interest. I’ve really been making a conscientious effort to do that.
I know so many regrets I have had lately are linked directly to bad judgement calls on my behalf regarding situations and people…all things I can control. At some point I will look back on them all, be thankful for the lesson, and laugh. I can only hope everyone else can acknowledge the good in their regrets. I think it was, by far, one of the biggest lessons of 2012.
Although, I should note that there are sometimes regrets that we can’t learn a lesson from….or understand why they even happened. Take this picture, for example.