Saturday, April 18, 2009

Non, Rien de Rien


Ow! Ow! Ow! I can't believe how much it hurts, really hurts. I have felt physical pain before in my life but it's nothing compared to this. I was warned about this before, I listened carefully to the warning, but it wasn't meant to and couldn't help me avoid this moment. This painful moment.

I loved my Grandmother Hingsburger dearly. She was a deeply kind woman. We had a lovely bond, a unique and special one. She managed to make me feel wildly important, something she managed with many. I was not jealous of the others who loved her, I was pleased simply to be in their company. We had talks, she and I, about many things. Once when she was looking particularly sad, I simply sat with her. After a few minutes she turned to me and said, "Some of the greatest pain you will ever feel will come from regrets, be careful the choices you make, the paths you choose, because one day you will feel the loss of the choice not made. It will hurt more than you can imagine." I held on to her and hoped and prayed that the choices that she made that lead to the moment I sat with her, were not amongst those that caused her pain.

Life means choices of course. We make millions a day. I make them for myself, I am paid to make some for others. I have felt, I thought, regret. I have looked back at clinical decisions made for others out of best intentions and have found that I was wrong. I felt regret, I thought. But now I know that what I felt was not regret, it was remorse, perhaps, or a thoughtful rethinking, but it wasn't regret.

Three years in a wheelchair have caused a significant change in my life. I look back over that time and then look over the hill into the time before 53 years of walking, and I feel many things. But I don't feel regret. I feel an odd thankfullness. I am here because of the diligence of doctors, the accessibility of the health care system, the purposeful love of a partner that knew how to nurse when nursing was needed. Many feelings, true, but not regret.

Regret walked up to me and slapped my hard a few days ago. I openned an innocent looking email. A benign email bringing me up to date on someone else's life. And WHAM! I gasped. The pain struck so hard, so fast, that it felt physical. Suddenly I saw the road not taken, the choice not made, I felt bitterness at the back of my throat, I felt blame towards others flare up, I felt anger at myself, I felt jealous at the journey of another. I was consumed. Consumed. I could hardly think. I understood why Grandma sat there so quietly, I now know that my sitting with her without question was the right thing to do.

Later, a little more sane, in the car on the way down to New Jersey, I told Joe about the email about the intense regret. He listened carefully. When I was done he said, "You still can, you know, if you really want, you still can, we'd have to reshape our lives, but you still can." I wasn't sure that I could, though. I didn't know if I believed in myself to the degree he believed in me. I thought it might just be an acheivement out of my reach. Even if there was time, I don't think there is ability.

"You think so," I asked.

"Yes," he said with certainty.

What dangers, I wonder are there in returning to a decision made and unmaking it. What dangers, I wonder are there in simply letting the past rest.

I wonder at what point we simply come to peace with our lives. I wonder if we ever do.


Belinda said...

Aaaargh, that is way too enigmatic for me. I have so many questions. It's probably my early morning brain fuzz though, and I will read again, between the lines this time.

However, if there is still life, then there is still choice--a chance to make a difference for good. I love Joe's encouragement in that direction--towards courage and hope.

Andrea Shettle said...

You don't say what decision you're confronted with. But if Joe thinks it's within your reach then I'm sure it is. He must have a pretty savvy sense of judgment. After all, when he was choosing partners, he chose you.

krista said...

What a joy it must be to have Joe by your side - it must be absolutely phenomenal to have someone believe in you that much!

Cynthia F. said...

My impression is that you can trust Joe's instincts. He sometimes knows and believes you are capable of more than you know and believe you are capable of - and is proved correct over time.

Choosing to be with him was clearly the opposite of something to regret, by the way. You certainly got that one right!

Kate said...

Hey, I wish you the best, but you've got me awfully curious about what was in that email.... especially something that would require a "reshaping of your life". Whenever you feel able to talk about it....we're all interested! :)

theknapper said...

Take time to just sit with the possibilities. Be kind to yourself & take care,

CJ said...

"The Road not Taken."

The majority of roads remain open to us until we are no longer.

Think upon it for a while.

Anonymous said...

You can't unmake decisions. Time moves on and the paths not chosen can't be retraced. Maybe you can take a detour and end up somewhere close to where that path would have led anyway, but if you try to get onto that unchosen path you'll just end up lost and ignoring the paths open to you now.

I'm saying this because I wasted nearly two years trying to undo a decision. That whole time I was stuck and despairing. I couldn't accept that I couldn't get back to where I had been. I only sorted my life out when I stopped trying to go back and decided to look forward and explore the paths which were still ahead of me. I'll never be the woman I was, I'm not in the place I would have been if I'd taken a different path, but I'm happy, so very happy, with where I am now.

Shan said...

And to lavendersparkle I say a resounding ibid.

Shan said...

PS: That being said, when you decide to go ahead and swim the English Channel and damn the consequences, I shall cheer you on from the Zodiac with a Thermos of Gatorade.