July 11, 2020
Dealing with Regret When the Lights Go Out
I don't know how many times in the past 22 years I have thought to myself, "I wish I would have..." or "I wish I hadn't..." Countless times, I'm sure.
I wish I had said, "Yes, you can," more and "No, you can't," less. I wish I had held on to him more tightly. I wish I had not planned to go to the meeting on the coast. I wish I had taken the whole week off to be with them. Oh, my goodness, even now as I write, there are so many things I wish I had done differently.
The grieving parent must live with all the decisions made prior to the child's death... every single one... And if you are not careful, those decisions can cause you much grief... many tears... tremendous heartache.
I assume it all comes with the grieving process, but just like the silence, when those moments of regret overtake me, I do not like them. I try to get rid of them as quickly as possible.
How do you deal with them? Well, I'm not an expert on grief, and I only have my personal experience, so that is what I'll share with you all today.
1. First of all, I asked for forgiveness. I often prayed to God to forgive me for not being a better parent, and I would whisper to Andrew, even though I know he could not answer me, how much I loved him and what I'd give to spend one more minute with him.
2. Second, I realized that I do still have people in my life very much alive, and if I was going to drown myself in pity, I should at least reevaluate how I am treating those people... how much time I am spending with them... what have I learned and changed as a result of Andrew's death in my other relationships.
It's often funny how Gideon will say to me now, "Mama, if Andrew and I had of done what Clemens and Emmitt are doing right now, you would have beat our tails." He's right. I would have. And each time my grandchildren leave, with my house looking like an EF5 tornado has left the building, as I pick up each toy, I think to myself, "It is a joy to have toys to pick up."
When the boys were little, I never seemed to have time to do things like "cook with them" or "run in the rain with them." Now, I try to make time. I know young couples struggle, and I thank God for second chances as grandparents. I just never dreamed I'd lose my chance to do so many things with Andrew.
3. Third, I fill my mind with all the good memories I have. Even though I felt very robbed of my time with Andrew, and even though I felt I was not perfect, I know in my heart I wasn't a bad mother at all. We did have good times. So when regret tries to cover me, I wash it away with the cleansing memories of all those good times.
Andrew and I used to love to sit at my old upright piano and sing and play. Neither of us could sing a lick... but we both tried. I can't play the song, "I surrender all" without thinking of him. I had taught him the first part of the song on the piano not long before he died.
Andrew was my little scientist, and he sure loved rocks. I remember asking one of my geology professors for some rocks for Andrew. Dr. Haywick gave me a little set from the University of South Alabama for Andrew to have. I cherish those so much, because I know how happy they made Andrew the day I gave them to him.
Andrew had pet hedgehogs, and he loved them so much. When I see a hedgehog, even though I know I don't really want to keep it, something inside of me thinks of him. I tried to get one for Clemens and keep it. Gideon didn't want it at their house, and well, Ray didn't want it here... so I found it a new home. Clemens still reminds me that I got rid of his hedgehog without his permission.
I could really spend all day and write an entire book about all the good memories I have of Andrew. And thinking about those good times help me subdue the desire to dwell on regrets.
I honestly do not think it is possible to lose anyone you love without some degree of regret. It is a natural part of living and dying. Remember when Jesus arrived at the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Both Mary and Martha said to Jesus, "If you had been here..." All of us have those "if" moments.
We play out in our minds an alternative ending where our loved ones would still be with us if we had taking a different path... chosen a different action... but in reality... "It is appointed unto man once to die..." I do think God knows our days; He knows our time we have on earth. I know He doesn't want me to spend all my days living with pain and regret. There is a time and a season for all things.
I know the season of regrets and wishes must also come to an end. How long do we allow it? I think the answer is personal for each of us. But I do feel at some point, if we continue in regrets, we cease to live ourselves... at least to the fullest potential that we were designed to experience by our Creator.
I have to remember God knew me from the beginning of my first active cell, dividing to create my being. He knew Andrew. He knows all my family, and their beginnings, and I believe He knows our ending. Yet in spite of Andrew's untimely death in my mind, it never caught God off guard. And I know God had plans for my life beyond Andrew's death... for here I am writing today. So, I know I must live, and do my best to live every day to the fullest.
Do I still waste opportunities? Sure I do. I know every decision we make daily cannot be a perfect one. We are human after all. But I do try to acknowledge God's plan for my life. I seek for wisdom, and I do my best to simply live.
My prayer for those living with regrets is simple today:
May you learn to forgive yourself.
May you learn to live again, seeing countless opportunities before you.
May God show you His plan for your precious life.
May you do your best to fulfill it.
Learn from your regrets; but ultimately leave them in the dust as you navigate your life's journey on this side of Heaven.
Much love to you all!
To Be Continued...