For the most part, my own regrets are small, relatively insignificant ones. I regret trying to change out that clogged sprinkler head myself. I regret having that last drink. As much as I love Taco Bell, every time I go there I later regret that decision. And so does my family.
And then, there are the big regrets. Perhaps, one of the biggest of my life is that I never said goodbye to my grandfather.
Grandpa got sick the summer before my senior year in college. I knew he hadn’t been doing well, but at the time, I was too self-absorbed in parties, a new relationship with some hot guy that would eventually become my husband, and my summer job to realize the gravity of the situation. As a young, invincible 21 year-old, mortality wasn’t something that was at the forefront of my mind.
He passed away later that summer. I never got to say goodbye.
Almost 15 years later, that regret has not diminished.
A few months ago, I got an email that my grandmother was not doing well. I had a flash of deja vu. And this time, I did not hesitate. I knew I had to go.
As bad as this sounds, as much as part of me wanted and needed to go, the other part equally dreaded it. In the back of my mind, I knew it would not be a “fun” vacation.
For one thing, I planned on taking Chip, so that he could meet his great-grandmother. But the thought of traveling solo cross-country with a toddler in tow sent shivers up my spine. And for good reason. Multiple meltdowns at 50K feet, hectic schedules and long days driving back and forth from the hotel ended up taking the toll on us both.
I was also not prepared for the mixture of bittersweet emotions I’d feel once we got there. The sadness of seeing my once-solid grandma transformed into someone more childlike than grandmotherly. The frustration of strained family relationships. The emptiness of walking around in a house that used to be filled with laughter, chaos and vivacity…that was simply not any more.
I say it was bittersweet, because there were indeed good things about the trip as well.
Like seeing Chip trounce around in the fields I used to spend my summers frolicking in.
Glimpses of the grandmother I remembered.
Taking pictures of four generations gathered together.
Quiet strolls in the field with grandma.
And one day, visiting with my grandmother, and seeing the recognition in her eye when she realized who I was, and that it was her great-grandson visiting.
Do I have any regrets for going? Not a single one.