Saturday, February 2, 2013

Just Do It (without Regret)!

New England Pet Hospice & Home Care
     I have often heard and repeated the saying, "You never regret the things you do, only the things you don't."  I believe it with my whole heart.

     But every belief is tested - usually more than once.

     For me, this happened a few years ago
with a woman who was more than an acquaintance but not quite a close personal friend.  You know what I mean - you care for the person and always get along beautifully, but you probably wouldn't invite her to your wedding and you wouldn't call her if you were diagnosed with a terminal illness.

     Well, her father died tragically and unexpectedly in a car accident at a too young age. I was heart broken for her, and following the wisdom of the quote, went to the funeral.  We hadn't seen each other in years.  I had known her father a bit and held him in very high regard but we weren't close.

     After the graveside service, I caught the friend's eye and went over to greet her, giving her a big hug.

     And burst into tears.

     As you might imagine, I see a lot of death in this work - human and animal - and I don't usually burst into tears. I am used to being the strong one for the person in need.

     I was mortified.

     But then, something even worse, I blurted out, "I'm so sorry; I loved him, too."

     The moment it was out of my mouth, I regretted it.  Who the heck was I to say such a thing?  True, I did genuinely care for the man, as he was one of those truly special people who exuded warmth, grace and a genuine heart. I really did love him, even though I hadn't known him that well, but I felt like an idiot and wondered what she would think of me saying such an intimate thing. How could I, an almost stranger, dare to suggest that I was anywhere near as affected by his death as she was? How dare I refer to my own pain in her time of loss?

    I promised to visit during Shiva.  I didn't.

    I promised to stay in touch.  I didn't.

    I was completely shamed by my actions at the funeral and my failure to do the right thing afterwards, feeling they were selfish, self-absorbed and utterly out of proportion to what I should have been feeling and what I should have said to comfort my friend in her time of  grief and enormous loss. Honestly, I couldn't face her and wished I could have a do-over, so I could say the right thing and be the friend I should have been.

     Fast forward 6 years when I reconnect with the friend over a walk in the woods with our dogs. We walk and talk and guess what she says?

    "You know my father's whole funeral was a blur to me.  I remember almost nothing about it, but I remember you being there. For some reason, I picked you out of the crowd and seeing you there meant so much to me. I don't really remember the words that were said at the service or who all came, but I remember hugging you, sharing tears and being touched by what you said. Knowing how many people loved my Dad, from the woman at the checkout line right on down, was huge. I cannot thank you enough for being there."

     The moral of the story?

     You never know who you will affect or how you will affect them.  All you can do is show up, be genuine and follow your heart.

     Trust that your heart will lead you to the right place and the right thing, even when your brain tells you otherwise.


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