Posted by: CeCe | March 2, 2012

Living with regret

I was ten when my father died.  Hardly more than a child, really.  He had been dying for a long time, and had in fact been diagnosed with congestive heart failure before I was even born, so it wasn’t a surprise really, but even though I knew what death meant long before that, I didn’t know what dying meant.  I had never really been around people who were obviously dying.  My dad’s parents died before I was born, and my mom’s parents both passed quickly, with very little warning.  Even my grandma’s cancer went from diagnosis to death in a matter of months.  I had three uncles die rather suddenly before my 6th birthday.  There was no time to prepare for any of them.  Not that it’s any easier watching someone waste away slowly, and knowing that they’re slipping farther and farther from you by the moment, because it isn’t.  But until my dad actually died from a long-term illness, I had no idea what it meant when someone was dying.

So the day before my dad died, he asked me to get him some toast and his coffee.  I mouthed off, probably said something like a really snotty “FINE!” and then stomped to the kitchen and got him his food.  I don’t think I said anything to him when I brought him the toast and coffee, or if I did, I don’t remember.  I then went back to my room to play.  Later that afternoon, while I was playing in my room with a neighbor, my eldest brother came in and told me to take her home right away.  To me, he sounded angry, and I reacted badly.  I took my friend home, but I wasn’t happy about it.  No one told me that it was because my dad was a couple rooms away having his final heart attack.

So the ambulance came and took my dad to the hospital.  I don’t think I even got the chance to say anything to him before he was gone, though I did catch a glimpse of him.  All I remember is that his skin was gray and he looked like he was in a lot of pain, but he was still smiling through it.  He smiled at me, and then he was gone.

As soon as I was awakened by the phone ringing in the middle of the night, I knew he was really gone.

I always wished I had told him I loved him and had hugged him one more time.  I keep thinking that maybe I would feel better about losing him so young if I had gotten that opportunity.

I did the same sort of thing when my mom died.  Her body was so riddled with cancer by the end that we knew we were losing her, and that it was only a matter of time.  The last time I saw her was a Friday, and she died that Sunday.  I did at least tell her how much I loved her, and how much she meant to me, that she was an amazing mother and my hero… but then I wonder.  Why didn’t I go to her on Saturday?  Why didn’t I kiss her cheek that day?  Why didn’t I get to her earlier on Sunday?

I don’t know if my feelings of regret and guilt are due to survivors’ guilt or if I really am a selfish person.  Maybe a bit of both.  But it’s because of how I blew my final chances with my parents that I feel it’s so important for us to all be careful in our interactions with our loved ones, lest that blow-up, those angry words, those hard feelings, that lack of contact become the last chance we had to make things right.  Your family should be the most important thing in your life.  And when I say family, I don’t always mean blood-related family because I know that not everyone’s family is as amazing as mine is; sometimes your friends are your family.  But if your family is not the most important thing in your life, if instead you think work, money, keeping up appearances, and your own selfish desires are more important, and you wind up alienating your family as a result, you will regret it.  It may come down to you having one more chance to make it right, and you lose it like I did.

I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

That’s why I generally don’t hold grudges.  Life is too short for that.




  1. Cece, your posts always touch a place in my heart.

    • Thank you, that means a lot to me! I’m glad you enjoy them. 🙂

  2. […] Living with regret ( 44.888562 -108.597903 I'm sharable!MoreDiggPrintEmailShare on TumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Activism, Blog Articles, Communications, Elections, Family, Friends, History, Memories, Miscellaneous, Photos, Politics, Scrapbook and tagged Automobile, Boxing the compass, Energy, Family, Fathers, Grandparent, home, Monday Night Football, National Weather Service, Parenting, Renewable, Stay at Home Fathers, Technology, Wind, Wind advisory by Four Blue Hills. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  3. I guess it’s odd to say that I am fortunate that I lost so many friends long before my mom died that by then I already had a huge sense of what it means to truly appreciate the people you love. Now whenever I feel an eruption of something ugly coming on aimed at them, I ask myself if I can live with it being my last words to them. Usually the answer is no, usually (now) I find something better to say. I’ve read both of your posts about your parents (even though the one about your mom made me cry like a big wussy and I had to leave before I could post) and from where I sit it looks to me like they were just as lucky to have a daughter like you as you were to have parents like them.

    • Thank you, that really means a lot to me! I hope so. They were both amazing people.

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