WARNING: I don’t know if this post is really meant for anyone other than myself. It’s really just a long confessional. This really went off the rails!
So I lost a friend on Monday. Bruce Robertson passed on April 9, 2018. This was an odd friendship, I can’t say that I really knew Bruce, he was a complicated person, but I considered him a friend regardless. He was in his 70s and lived an interesting life and wanted it to continue to be interesting until the end.
But this post is not going to be about friendship (that’s saved for later), this is going to be about dodging regret.
On Easter Sunday I was planning on getting together with my family for lunch. That morning my cell phone rang while I was doing something on the computer and I could see that it was Bruce. I thought to myself that he was probably calling to say Happy Easter or perhaps to ask for a favor? He often asked me to pick him up or drop him off at various car shops. I let the phone go to voicemail, but about 10 minutes later I just called him without even listening to the message – as many of us do now a days. Bruce picked up the phone, sounding weak and asked me for a ride to the hospital. Of course, I went over and took him to the hospital and called my family to tell them that I would not be making Easter lunch. Bruce wasn’t doing well when I arrived, but I never dreamed that would be the last time that I would see him.
I’m so grateful to have picked up the phone and called him back within minutes. Had I heard the message later, after he’d gotten to the hospital through some other means and then later hearing about him passing away, I would have felt guilty about letting a friend down. I will miss the guy and even occasionally being his personal Uber.
I don’t regret much in life, but somethings stick to me that I can’t seem to shake off. I think forgiving yourself comes in two different formats; logical and emotional. I think we often forgive ourselves logically, but can’t seem to emotionally. Man, this post is going on way too long, but what the heck, let’s go deep!
A big regret of mine happened about 5 years ago. My father had been battling liver cancer for sometime and was not doing well. He and my mother were living with my wife and I for the convenience of caring for him. We were often going to the hospital or visiting a doctor anywhere from 4-7 days per week. Meantime, I was still a father, husband, running my own business, and trying to finish my last semester of law school. My father had asked me about visiting Hiller Museum (an aircraft museum nearby where I live), which I was happy to take him and my mother. It was an extraordinary trip, he walked around the museum for a couple hours, he was surprisingly full of energy and vigor that afternoon. When we finished with the museum, he asked if we could drive to go see the new Bay Bridge? I looked at my watch and knowing I had calls to make, emails to return and books to read, told him why not maybe go tomorrow? That I had to catch up on somethings before it got too late.
Despite feeling so well that day, that same evening he took a turn for the worst and never recovered – he passed away a week later. I often cross the Bay Bridge and it’s become the Bridge of Regret for me. I know logically that I was juggling so much, how could I have known that was his last good day? Emotionally, I always ask myself what the hell was I doing that day that was so important that I couldn’t spare a couple more hours and go to the bridge?
Life for most of us in the Bay Area is hectic. We all run around like crazy trying to do a million things at all times. As if whatever we need to accomplish is really that important? I know we can’t be available to those close to us at all times, we do have jobs and other commitments and at times those include choosing whom to be with a different times. As my father said, “life is about choices.”
I don’t even know what this post was about anymore or Why Life is Great because of anything in this story? I guess my limited take away from all this, is to do your best caring for those around you, so you can either minimize or dodge regret altogether! This means you kids should ALWAYS do what the old man tells you to do or you’ll be guilt ridden.
P.S. – kidding, why start now doing what the old man tells you?
New Word of the Day:
- a feeling of uneasiness or anxiety of the conscience caused by regret for doing
wrong or causing pain; contrition; remorse.
- any uneasiness or hesitation about the rightness of an action.