August 11, 2010

Regret Me Not

Dear Mom,

Regrets. We all like to say we have none, just lessons learned, but it seems all the same to me. Although my regrets aren't the typical ones that someone my age should have. I should be regretting the small stuff like wearing that not-so-flattering blue faded dress to my sorority formal that fall or accepting one too many mixed drinks from my girlfriends on my 21st birthday. But as you know, I'm not that lucky. My regrets are actually quite small in the grand scheme of things, but they still manage to seep into my mind when I'm least expecting them and completely ruin my day.

1. We never took enough pictures together. I guess I thought there would be enough time when you got better, but that day never came. Now I'm left with one from the final basketball game I cheered at when handed out roses to our parents in the crowd, one from the Kermesse festival that summer before you were bedridden, and the last one we took together a week or two before you passed away (but Dad doesn't like that one because it's obvious that you are sick when it was taken. I think it is so hard for him to look at because he finally could see how thin and frail you became. It's difficult to notice even the biggest changes when you're right in the middle of it all. There's nothing wrong with him only wanting to imagine you happy and healthy; I just can't bring myself to ever get rid of it even though looking at it often times brings more tears than smiles. It's our last picture together. Dad is so much stronger than me in that way). There are other pictures, but they're mainly family photos or from when I was really young. Honestly, I could have a million photographs and it still wouldn't be enough! Now I'm a photo guru. I take pictures of every person I care about and every event I encounter. I know it's silly, but I just want to capture and remember all the little moments that define my life. I wish I would have asked you to take more pictures with me.

2. I should have been a better daughter. Now, when I try to explain this to anyone they are shocked that I could ever think I wasn't a good enough daughter to you-- and I know you'd be mad at me for even thinking it! But these are my regrets, and I can't help what they are, as much as I would like to. The reason I think I feel regretful isn't a bad one, it's more bittersweet if anything. I just feel that since your death, I have grown into a much stronger, more beautiful person in so many ways. I treat people better, I laugh a little harder, and love more fully. I tell my family and friends how much I love them and enjoy the little things more than ever before. Why did it take your death to fast-forward this transformation into the person I have always wished to be? I know I was never a bad daughter, but I would be an even better one to you today. And I still try my best to be just that and honor your memory in all I do. I hope you are able to see this from wherever you are now.

3. I wish I would have gone to church with you. Religion is a whole post or 10 in it's own for me, but it's one of these small regrets I have. I remember going when I was really little, but I ironically made church-going a living hell for you, and that Sunday ritual ended quickly. Now I know how much religion was a part of your life growing up. You lived for God, church, the choir, etc. I never saw that side of your life, and I feel like it would have helped me in so many ways today. I wish I would have cared enough about it to pry myself into that hidden part of your life. You would have been so happy to share it with me. It's not too late for me to find my own sense of belief, and trust me, I'm trying so hard, but it would be so wonderful to have gotten to share it all with you.

4. I regret not requesting more family vacations together. The one (and only) I remember is the four of us going to Chicago for my cousin Sean's wedding. Later I found out that you and Dad knew this entire trip that you potentially had a cancerous tumor the size of a softball growing inside you. You had me 100% fooled. You didn't even give a fraction of a hint that anything was wrong. While we were there, I had one of my notorious allergy-related anxiety attacks after convincing myself I would somehow die from the shellfish being served even though I wasn't eating it, and Tom got a call that his old college roommate died from an overdose. You were so concerned about consoling him and calming me down (I'm SUCH a baby, I know, but I'm getting better about my allergy anxiety!) and were secretly dealing with your own issues. Besides the ending of the trip, we had the greatest time together (and I just remembered we have a picture together from that time too- wearing funny hats out a restaurant). I wish we had taken many more vacations together. I think I found more excitement from you and Dad leaving on vacation together and letting me have the house to myself growing up. I was an idiot! I missed out on so much time with you, Dad and Tom because I was selfish. I try to convince myself that all kids are. Someday, when I have my own children, I will force them to go on those silly family getaways with me because, in time, they will also see how not-so-silly they really are.

Now that I have taken the time to write these all out... rather than regrets, I think they are better labeled as exactly what I will do with my own family someday. Simply minor alterations from my very happy childhood. Maybe they really aren't regrets but truly are just lessons learned. There you go again- still teaching me lessons even from heaven.


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