On regrets (and not having them)

>> Sunday, October 25, 2009

For reasons unknown or unanalyzed, an old friend popped into my mind today.


My friend J was a quiet guy. He was an artist and a musician. In high school, these attributes do not necessarily make you the coolest of kids. But he was smart and sweet and funny and shy, and when I took his arm and played his date at stage right in a musical with a name I can't recall, I crushed hard for J. I always liked the uncool kids. (They were always the coolest.)

I, a boy crazy sophomore, was the first kiss for this shy senior boy. He, all kindness and blue eyes, was the nicest, sweetest boy I had ever kissed.

But this was highschool, where fickleness and frivolity reign. And after he ended one of our dates with a run through Taco Bell drivethru, sending me shrinking to the far side of his parent's giant blue station wagon in angst over how bad his breath would be when he walked me to my front door, it was over.

And the next week when I introduced my dad to G, who sat on our livingroom couch, arm slung around my shoulders, my father summed it up just right when he humiliated me in his befuddlement, "G? What happened to J? What is this - boyfriend of the week??!"

And it was. It was how I rolled, nothing personal, J.

But I always felt badly about how abruptly I ended things. The poor guy had no clue it was just about the Taco Bell, no idea about the fickleness, the frivolity of teenage girls. He let it end without drama, and he stepped quietly aside as I finished out the school year as G's girl.

He was such a nice guy and I was the only girl he ever kissed.

A couple of years later I bumped into J at a summer concert in our hometown. He was home from college, and I was genuinely excited to see him. We laughed that War was headlining the show, twenty years past their peak; and we chatted for a while. After rocking out to Low Rider, I gave him another big hug and told him that it was really, really good to see him again and that I was so glad he was doing well. He stayed at the stage and I ran off with my friends. I turned back and waved goodbye one more time. He was smiling.

One week later J died of an asthma attack. He was 21 years old.

At his funeral, a college friend brought along a letter J had mailed him just that week. In it, J had written how he had bumped into a girl he used to date and how nice it was to see her. How even though he knew nothing would come from it, he felt "really good just knowing that a beautiful girl still cared even a little bit" about him.


It isn't often in life that we get closure with people from our pasts, that we get the opportunity to take a wrong and make it a little closer to right. That we get to cast off regrets because time was kind in its passing.

While I don't want to live my life worrying that each goodbye will be the last, I think it's important to be grateful for the people in our lives, and to let them know we care about them when we still have the chance to tell them to their face.

I'm not sure why I have been thinking about J today. But he was a real sweetheart and I wish he could have had the chance to shine his light for many more years than he did.

24 comments:

natalie October 26, 2009 at 6:52 AM  

::sob:: I am sorry for j's passing, too. Really sweet, really poignant poat.

Corinne October 26, 2009 at 8:09 AM  

This is the second post I've read today that has tears literally streaming down my face. Gah!!!
But really really wonderful post. We all need that reminder from time to time.

CatrinkaS October 26, 2009 at 9:20 AM  

Small beauty, large gratitude, and peace. So rarely do we gain peace from lives that crossed ours, so briefly.

Thank you for the capture, for the appreciation.

Melissa Dominic October 26, 2009 at 9:24 AM  

beautiful. the sentiment, the post. all of it.

Grumble Girl October 26, 2009 at 9:29 AM  

I'm happy for you that your last meeting with J was so positive, and that he thought kindly of you too... this is the important thing. Nice memory. Sorry for his passing though... tragic.

Great post, lady!

janell,  October 26, 2009 at 10:28 AM  

Wow--oh the memories....I just came across my folder of "J Art" the other day. And cried a little. Now I read this, and cry a little more. I love how you can capture a memory with just the right words....

One question, though: who is G, and why can't I remember?!? :)

Boy Crazy October 26, 2009 at 10:46 AM  

Janell- G was the younger of the two brothers I dated...(smiles sheepishly).

H-Mama October 26, 2009 at 11:00 AM  

beautiful post, lady! ;)

krista October 26, 2009 at 11:42 AM  

oh, man, that's beautiful. not that he passed, of course, but that you were able to come full circle, so to speak with him before he did.

lindsay October 26, 2009 at 3:51 PM  

Thanks for commenting on my blog last week; glad you came by!

I am glad you experienced closure in this relationship. I have personally experiences both variations--closure versus indefinite vagueness--and know that closure is truly a gift.

Your story is also a reminder of just how much we can impact the lives of others--often more than we realize, or in different ways.

Meghan October 27, 2009 at 3:35 PM  

In my hours awake at night, nursing my baby, my mind often goes to old friends and relationships I've had. Inevitably, my thoughts are of the things I did to screw up. Regrets. I wish it were easy to make them all right again.

Lea October 27, 2009 at 8:34 PM  

Made me cry. Big deep breath needed.

MommyGeekology October 28, 2009 at 2:48 PM  

Aw crap now I'm crying.

This is beautiful. I am so sorry to hear that he passed at such a young age. It's always tragic.

Beautifully written, though. Thank you for sharing your story about him, and your message.

maggie, dammit October 29, 2009 at 8:40 PM  

Oh, wow.

How amazing, that letter? I wonder how often things like this happen in life but we don't have the documentation, the closure you mentioned. We are all so intertwined in ways we can't even imagine. George Bailey, man.

Lovely.

Adventures In Babywearing October 29, 2009 at 10:06 PM  

Wow. That is chilling, such a sweet lesson here- I can relate so much about those regrets.

Steph

Heather of the EO October 31, 2009 at 8:22 PM  

I don't even know what to say besides WOW.

I really appreciate this post. I get it. I really get it.

Dawn November 2, 2009 at 12:00 PM  

i was going to say that it is funny how the world works... but instead i am thinking that it is amazing how God works. blessings to you!

Anonymous,  January 6, 2010 at 1:57 PM  

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

HisFireFly January 29, 2010 at 5:17 PM  

This is fantastic. What an encouraging reminder about how we never know how significant the "little things" we do can be in someone else's life.

Thank you for sharing such a heart zinging story.

Jo@Mylestones January 29, 2010 at 5:51 PM  

I remember reading this the first time around. Not sure why I didn't comment then, b/c I remember loving it. Thanks for linking up today!

Dayle January 29, 2010 at 11:19 PM  

Such a poignant story, rich with meaning. Thank you.

Sharone January 29, 2010 at 11:34 PM  

Wow, I think that's a little taste of heaven to be able to see the impact we've had on the lives of others. :) This is a precious, profoundly moving story.

Southern Gal January 30, 2010 at 11:30 PM  

I'm not sure how I got here, but this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

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I'm a realistic optimist who relies on raw honesty and plenty of humor to navigate the boystorm that is my life. I am mother to three and wife to one. These are my stories.


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