Kate at One More Thing wrote a thoughtful post about what to do if you discover you have only one month to live, and one of the things she said struck a chord with me (actually the whole post is full of chords). She said that she had no regrets.
I do. I don’t have many, but they are there. The biggest is not having had more children, and though it still makes me sad when I think about it I don’t dwell on it. It’s a fact, it’s there, but there’s nothing I can do to change it so there’s no point.
Another regret is the one friendship I’ve lost over bad behavior on my part. This girl and I met in junior college and were friends for seven years. The memories we made are way too numerous (and often scandalous) to share. Suffice to say that we were to each other that most important relationship in the life of any young girl: best friends. We were there for each other in all the ways true best friends are.
It was good stuff.
A few years after graduating college we were planning her wedding and I was making the agonizing decision to put my mother in a mental hospital. My sister was pregnant and her husband laid off, so I felt the burden was mine, all mine. After the wedding she offered me an escape, so I wound up moving with her and her husband to another state to help her in-laws renovate a home they were turning into a bed-and-breakfast. I was very, very depressed.
I didn’t live up to my end of the bargain. I sneak-smoked in the house, I didn’t do the work I said I’d do and I didn’t find a job and move out. It took three months to end a friendship of seven years, and it ended with accusations of theft (which I absolutely did not do) and anti-semitic slurs. My friend did not trust easily, and my actions (or mostly lack thereof) shattered that trust.
It was the only time in my life I ever lost a friend by anything other than normal drift. And I felt lousy about it. Sure, I was wronged, too. But I did a lot wrong. That didn’t help my depression any.
I came back to Florida and tried to put my life back together. I had gotten offered a job in an insurance office, and I clawed my way into a life. My depression gradually lifted. A few months later I wrote letters of apology to my friend and her husband and to his parents, and while I hoped to hear from her I didn’t expect to.
That was fifteen years ago. I’ve thought of her often over the years. I’m still friends with many of the people we knew together back then (I even married one), though she has lost touch. So of course it’s a regret. My actions helped end a friendship that meant a great deal to me.
Fast forward to today. I ran a search on Facebook for people who were at university the same time I was, and her name was the very first to pop up. I’d only been a Facebook member for a few weeks, and here was an opportunity I could not let pass.
So I sent her a message, and she responded. Open, friendly, welcoming.
I cannot tell you how freed up I feel that this burden of loss/regret/guilt has been lifted, and I can’t explain why it would be lifted just because she replied to my message. After all ,it’s not that what happened has been erased, and that I don’t still feel guilt and regret. But even if we don’t stay in contact I somehow don’t feel that sense of loss that I’ve felt every time I’ve thought about her over the past fifteen years.
Hello, old friend.