Where do I begin? How far back should I go?
When I first started working I did a good thing. I opened an IRA with $2000. I was young and it was forward-thinking. Life went on, I moved many times, got married, left the state, and lost track of that IRA. Never set up another one. I thought about it over the years, tried to track it down. Never finished the paperwork. Let it go year after year. FINALLY I did what needed to be done, submitted all the documents, updated my name, information, address, marital status, and got back that IRA and was thrilled that it had tripled in value! But the guy at the brokerage house? He was sick over it because for 30 years it had been sitting in a money market account earning next to nothing. Properly invested, that IRA should have accrued in the tens of thousands. GEEZ. As Julia Roberts says in Pretty Woman...
"Big mistake. HUGE."
I had a wonderful wedding and a huge reception with over 200 family and friends. Try as I did to think of EVERYTHING to ensure no detail would be missed, there were misses. I forgot to give my photographer the list of shots to get and never had a picture taken with my Gramma. Because it wasn't my side of the family (and I didn't know at the time), we didn't include my deceased father-in-law's only
sister, Aunt Barbara and Uncle Dick in the photos and we didn't invite my sister-in-law's best friends from college, Marilyn & Doug, to the wedding. Worse, my friend Shirley didn't ask me to take over the video camera and I didn't ask her because I thought it would be making her "work" at my wedding. Videographer-extraordinaire, if Shirley had been behind the camera, she would've had a much better time. Shirley would've gotten our guests — many of whom are no longer living — to tell stories and share wisdom and we would've had an unbelievable visual and oral history of the people who loved us and were there to celebrate our marriage. Instead, we have a stationery movie of the fixed view from the camera on a tripod.
|Photo by Jack Edinger|
When I was at a small street fair on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I bought an unbelievably stunning piece of art — a silver necklace of a face that was so simple and yet so beautiful. Out of fear and uncertainty, I never asked the artist his name. I'll never know the name of the person who made this face that I love and wear and get complimented on for forty years now.
Growing up, no one paid me any attention in my family, so when my children were born I was determined, driven and determined, not to have them experience that feeling. But the trouble is I went all the way the other way. I tried to tell them everything, give them everything, impart every last bit of information I could to inform them, educate them, protect them, and extend to them what no one but my teachers gave to me. But the pendulum swung too far the other way. How I smothered them with my knowledge. I didn't know this until they were grown and gone.
If only I had known then what I know now.
When my sister-in-law Robin was dying, I didn't go back up north to see her one last time. I'd helped in managing to get her out of the hospital and up to her home, contacted family and friends, got the information for arranging hospice. Though I spoke to her often (with someone holding the phone to her ear) I didn't make plans to return north. I was worried about the money, thought it was more important that my husband fly up to see her, but some part of me really didn't want to go back. Didn't want to see her at the end. Wanted to remember her dazzling smile and happy face. Didn't want to see her so changed and leaving this life. I regret it now.
She'd been sick for five years, bedridden for two, but still, it came as a shock. We were devastated that Donna was gone. Her son said the thought of orchestrating her funeral was overwhelming. And we worried about spoiling the wedding happiness by following it with a funeral. We didn't want everyone to darken their joy with our sorrow. So we sent my sister to her next incarnation without any ceremony or service for all the people who loved her. We planned to hold a celebration of her life at another time on one coast and the other, but time went by and we never did. Maybe that's why she doesn't "visit" me in my dreams or send me messages and let me know she's watching over us. It was shameful. It is shameful. She deserved better. It is my biggest regret.
Okay, I've confessed. These are the enduring regrets that keep me awake at night. When my head hits the pillow, THEN in the dark and silence of night, all the other things that have kept me busy and distracted (and not thinking about my mistakes) disappear, and it all comes flooding back to haunt me. I obsess about what went wrong last week, last month, fifteen years ago or more. These are the mental one-sided conversations I keep having over and over and over again — hoping to be heard by those in my past, in my present.
Not being seen or heard — painful remainders (yes, remainders) from my childhood. These are the hot buttons that make me tough to live with and keep me from finding peace.