Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lessons from a Past Regret

Two months ago I stood in my kitchen holding an invitation to my best friend’s wedding. I read the print as if I didn’t already know the details. Sunday, June 16, 2013. San Diego, California. Why does it have to be in San Diego? I clipped the invitation to the refrigerator wondering how long I would wait to tell her that I had decided not to go.

Feeling guilty for my decision, I silently listed my reasons. It made me feel better. It’s not really a choice. I just can’t go.

For starters, I’ve never been a great flyer and ever since my semi-emergency landing situation in 2008, I’ve become an awful flyer. (Actually, I’ve only flown once since then but it was enough for me to know that my level of fear has skyrocketed past uneasiness and is now orbiting straight-up panic attack).

I can’t go.

And now we’ve got this house and these two kids and I don’t work and money doesn’t grow on trees and ticket prices are high – not to mention hotel rooms, meals, and the high cost of everything in California (or so I’ve heard).

I can’t go.

PLUS, I’ve never left my kids. Ever. I’ve left town without my children one time since Reese was born. One time! Matt and I went to Chicago for a weekend getaway - we didn’t even leave the state. How can I go across the country without them? What if they get sick or hurt or they just need mommy?


I can’t go.

After convincing myself that this was not a choice made by me but by factors outside of my control, I made my peace with it. Her parents are having a reception here in July. I’ll go to that. There. Now I really felt better. Well, that’s the end of that.

A few weeks later, I was clearing out my office/guest room/catch-all-disaster (because I'm finally giving in to my desire for an official play room). I filled a small box with my framed diplomas, pictures, and other decorations. I paused as I grabbed the picture of my brother in his Marine uniform. That picture is all I have of the experience of his graduation. I don’t remember the ceremony. Because I wasn’t there.

I chose not to go for a lot of the same reasons. Mike had advised me against bringing Reese because of the lack of accommodations for a baby. He warned me that we would be outside all day in the heat with few (if any) convenient places to change or nurse her. As a new mom (and a generally high-strung person), I didn’t think I could handle that. But I also couldn’t handle the thought of leaving her…. AND I probably would’ve had a panic attack on the plane and I had just quit my job and money doesn’t grow on trees and...

I should’ve gone.

Until then I didn’t realize that I had never really made peace with my decision. Even though I did what I thought was best at the time, I wish I hadn’t let fear, discomfort, and uncertainty cause me to miss such an important milestone in my brother’s life.

If I could do it over again, I wouldn’t miss it.

I didn’t add his picture to the box. Instead I took it out of the frame and walked it to the kitchen. As I clipped it to the refrigerator next to Katie's wedding invitation, I saw my handwriting on the back.

People talk about living without regrets and I don't know if such a person exists, but I feel sorry for anyone who truly has none. Some of my deepest regrets and biggest mistakes have taught me the most valuable lessons of my life. Often the choices I would change if I could go back and do it over are the ones that shine a light on an opportunity to go forward and do it better.  

My flight leaves Saturday morning.


  1. *hugs*
    I'll be praying for your flight and you this weekend.

  2. I totally understand! mine is my brothers wedding. it was in mexico when I was 7 months pregnant, had a 1 1/2 yr old, and my husband was out of work (so $$ was an issue too). at the time I didn't think it was even an option. but looking back... regrets. it could have worked if I had made it work.

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