Lynda Van Devanter Buckley – May 27, 1947 – November 15, 2002.
I wasn’t going to write about this today, because, well, I’ve written about it before.
And it feels like, at this point, what else can I say? What else can I possibly write?
But, because this (writing) is how I process things, I felt like what’s on my mind right now needed to be processed. So, while Lilly naps, I write. I process.
Today marks 11 years since my mom died. You can use phrases like “passed away” or “left us” but those are fluff phrases. Died is an ugly word, but it’s what happens sometimes, it’s life. You are born. You live. You die. It’s okay.
No, I don’t sit around in an endless pity party day after day feeling sorry for myself or crying because I miss her. She’d be super pissed at me if I did that. In fact, I sometimes feel almost bad because I don’t cry that much anymore. I can openly talk about my mom and her life and not cry. It was a long time before that was the case, but today, that is the case.
That’s not to say that I don’t still cry every now and then, but it’s not a struggle anymore.
In fact, I feel like I’ve finally gotten to the point in the last few years where I can now smile more and laugh more and celebrate her life. Because that’s what she would have wanted.
But today, the truth is, I can’t help but think of regrets.
I know that it’s not sexy to say you have regrets. And I know that regrets aren’t something we should admit we have. However, sometimes, you have regrets. And right now, I have regrets.
I regret not talking with my mom more. Sure, I talked TO her a lot. But, when I was an immature, selfish teenager, I didn’t TALK WITH her. I talked TO her. I did way more talking and a whole lot less listening. And I regret that. When I try hard to think back to conversations we had, it’s hard to remember the details, because, well, I was a selfish teenager talking about my selfish issues. I regret that.
I regret not asking more questions. My mom lived an incredible life, and there are a whole lot of things about her life that I just don’t know the answer to. And I wish I did. And if I had been less selfish and talked WITH her more, I probably would have been able to ask more questions. Questions like, “Why did you want to become a nurse?” “Why did you want to go to Vietnam?” “Why did you live in California for as long as you did?” “Why did you decide to come back to Virginia?” “What was college and nursing school like?” “What was Vietnam like?” Sure, I’ve gotten some of those answers from reading her book, but I’d much rather have gotten them from her personally.
I regret not reading her book when she was alive. I didn’t read my mom’s book until after she died. And I really regret that. Now, my mom didn’t LET me read it for the longest time, but I think, eventually, I just put off reading it because she didn’t want me reading it. But, after reading it, I have so many questions. SO many questions. And those are questions that will forever go unanswered. And I don’t like that.
I regret not taking more pictures WITH her. That picture at the top of this post is one of the ONLY pictures I have with her when I was a teenager. I really haven’t been able to find ANY pictures of me and my mom in my later teen years. She died my senior year of high school and I have no pictures with her. I hate that. I really, really regret that. The photographic memories I have with my mom later in her life are pretty much nill… and that really sucks.
I regret not doing more things FOR her. Looking back, it’s hard for me to swallow that I really was just your typical, angsty, selfish teenager. And I feel like I took advantage of my mom sometimes. And I don’t like that. She was such a giving, caring, selfless woman – and I wish I’d taken a cue from her earlier and I wish I’d done more for her.
Now, I have no doubt in my mind that my mom knew how much I loved her and how much she meant to me, but I do always wonder if I told her enough. So, I’ve tried to make it a point to learn from my regrets and tell my family and my friends how much I love them. Constantly. I don’t ever want a day to go by where my friends or my family even doubt for a second my love for them.
I think it’s been harder these past few months now that I have Lilly. I try and think of stories that I’ll be able to tell her one day about her grandma, but knowing that they’ll never meet in this world is hard. Not having mom around to ask her questions about being a mother, is hard.
And now knowing what it’s like to be a mom on this side of motherhood, I regret not thanking my mom for being the mother that she was. She was an amazing mom. The best mom. The world’s greatest mom. And I should have thanked her for that more.
I don’t mean to write this post with the hopes of depressing you, or even myself. I write it in the hopes of being able to overcome my regrets. To put them down on paper, acknowledge them, and then move on from them. I write it in the hopes of being able to recover from my regrets. I write it in the hopes of never making those mistakes again. And I write it in the hopes of maybe encouraging others to take a step back and think about the time we spend with our family. The time we spend with our parents. The time we spend with friends.
We should spend less time talking and more time listening.
We should spend less time talking and more time asking questions.
We should spend more time investing in each other.
We should spend more time taking pictures together. Getting IN FRONT of that camera.
We should spent more time serving each other and doing things for each other and creating memories.
I miss my mom every day. And that’s okay. That’s good. That’s healthy. That’s how it should be.
I just, quite honestly, pray for the strength and the grace of God to help me overcome some of the regrets I have within me.