I try not to regret too much in my life. Things that I wish had turned out differently I chalk up to experience instead of dwelling on what I should have done or could have done. When I really examine my life, I only have three regrets: one, telling a certain boy I loved him when I knew I didn’t; two, the way I handled my 7th hour class my third year of teaching; and three, letting a dear friendship lapse for five years because I was mad at him once for five days.
It is this last regret that is most on my mind this week. I hadn’t seen this friend for three years, hadn’t talked to him at all, had no idea he and his wife had a one-year-old son. In May I read a news article about his son and the bone marrow transplant the son was about to have. And the regret that I had felt so often for five years (okay, 4 and a half) paired with the sadness that their little boy was so sick compelled me to try to repair the friendship. I had wanted to talk to him so many times in the past five years, but apologies sounded so lame, and then there’s the stubbornness and pride that my dad passed on to me…but I made a gesture that was well-received, and I felt so much better.
Sunday night the phone call came, giving me the news that my friend’s son had passed away. My heart is broken for him, and a care package is on its way to Montana, since I can’t be there for the funeral. It’s not the first death this summer that has affected me, but it’s the one that served as the catalyst for catharsis. I’ve cried a lot the past three days, and not only for my friend’s son, but also for my Aunt who died three weeks ago (the one Aunt I always felt closest to, yet I was unable to attend her funeral as well).
I usually deal with tragedy using food and/or humor, so I’ll end this somber post with a funny story…I called my sister Sunday night to share the news (the friend was a regular at our house for the five years we lived in Montana) but her 5 year old daughter, McKenna, answered the phone. McKenna loves to talk on the phone, so we chatted for a little while and then she said, “Aunt Julie, can I tell you a joke?”
Well, of course I was up for a joke from a 5 year-old, so she started, “Knock knock.” I answered, “Who’s there?” “Boo,” she replied. I knew where the joke was going from here, and I started to sob, but managed to choke out “Boo who?” And she said, “Don’t cry, it’s only a joke!”
I laughed, then cried a little harder at the irony that my niece, of all the silly jokes in her arsenal, chose that one to tell me at that time. I wish it was a joke, that my friend’s son had never been sick, but that wasn’t the plan for his life. I just hope that his family has peace in the coming months.