Regret is the piece of grief that won’t let me sleep. It’s the moving far from her during the years when she most needed a friend right there. It’s not being close enough for her to see my nod and smile as she told me her stories. It’s losing the courage the call when she no longer knew me. It’s leaving on Saturday with plans to come back on Thursday and her dying on Tuesday.
It’s Odysseus’ trench of milk and honey on the banks of the River Styx, coaxing the shades to speak. It’s Thornton Wilder’s Emily returned for her 12th birthday and begging her mother to look at her.
It’s never enough.
And I, my mind in turmoil, how I longed
to embrace my mother’s spirit, dead as she was!
Three times I rushed toward her, desperate to hold her,
three times she fluttered through my fingers, sifting away
like a shadow, dissolving like a dream, and each time
the grief cut to the heart, sharper, yes...
The Odyssey, II: 233-238
I loved her to the last with everything I had, as I know she loved me. But losing her means counting all the things I never did; all the ways I might have loved her better.
It means to regret the moments that passed unnoticed. The chances I had to give more, to love more, that sifted away like a shadow because I failed to make them real.