I just finished re balancing my IRA Brokerage account. I sold two stocks that I thought I would hold forever, McDonald's and Facebook.
This morning I have started painting my vacant hive so that I can expand from one small hive into the newer remodeled bigger hive, started cleaning the kitchen, started vacuuming, well you get the idea. I don't seem to be able to focus on any one thing and as I was getting ready to close the computer and start back into the chores of the day I decided to see what might surface if I just did some free writing. Almost always a dangerous pandora's box to open.
I googled, one word writing prompts and the first word to appear, "Regret".
We all have them. Some are huge and some are almost non existent. The one regret that will always top my list is Shannon's last birthday. She turned twenty-three and insisted that she didn't want me to make a fuss over her birthday. She was all grown up and didn't need or want the fuss of a cake or gifts ( although she wouldn't refuse the gifts ). Our day was special in that family sort of way. We had Mexican for lunch with family and ate too much and laughed too much and got home in plenty of time for her annual 6:14 pm birthday celebration of envisioning the coming year before blowing out the candle.
Somewhere around 6:10 I realized that she was sitting alone in the living room. She had become tearful and said that she hadn't realized how important the traditional birthday fuss was... at any age. She didn't have the candle to blow out at the exact time of her birth.
I frantically rushed into the kitchen and found graham crackers and a marshmallow and fashioned a ridiculous excuse for a cake and managed to find a candle and a lighter and ran to her side on the couch. By now she was in an full blown weep and just looked up at me and whispered, "It's too late."
For the first time in her life, I had listened to what she said she wanted and tried to ignore the Mom voice in my head that always claimed to know best... or at least better. I had not gotten the cake from Paul's bakery. I had not placed 23 candles in the middle of the white icing and pastel roses. I had not hidden extra presents wrapped in white paper with pink rosebuds with big old floppy pink ribbons. I had tried to respect the wishes of my woman child and now here we sat tears streaming down our faces until finally, feeling totally silly, my beautiful blue eyed daughter started to smile.
One month later, I delivered the eulogy at her memorial service...never to see that smile in this lifetime again.
Do I think that cake with its slowly melting candles would have changed the course of our lives? Of course not. We had had banana nut pancakes for breakfast that day and I read "The Old Turtle" to her as she ate. We had laughed and loved and enjoyed every moment of that day until we didn't, I will regret to my own final breath that I listened to her and did what she asked. She is laughing at that sentence, and probably most of her friends are laughing with her.
Does regret have value? Probably not. It sits heavy in the pit of my stomach and pushes waves of sadness down my cheeks. It weighs heavy on my heart that I never had the opportunity to make it up to her every year after for the rest of MY life.... but this regret has done one very important thing.
No one has missed a birthday cake in 22 years, including Shannon.