Esteban’s mom died yesterday.
Although her passing wasn’t entirely unexpected, I cried when I got the news — mostly because she was gone, but also because a wave of regret washed over me. “I wish I’d had a better relationship with your mom,” I told Esteban. I wished I’d gone to visit her the night before, instead of cursing the traffic and muttering, “I’ll go tomorrow.” I wish I’d told her more often that I admired her, and how grateful I am for her son.
Esteban’s mom had her share of regrets, too, in her final months. She mourned her own damaged relationships and cried about missed opportunities. But it was too late for her, as well … she’d lived her life and there was no going back.
Some say regret is a useless emotion, because we can’t change the past. But i think regret can be priceless — if it teaches us something about ourselves and informs our future actions.
The lesson I’ve learned these past few months — and especially last night — is to not wait. To not say, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” to not wish your life away because you hope for something more perfect, to seize each day … and to live the hell out of every day. Even the bad ones.
I’m heartened at least that in the last two weeks Ellen seemed happier and lighter, buoyed by the legacy she’d created through her courage and hard work — and immensely proud of her two children and her grandchildren. I hope these memories brought comfort as she embarked on that final, lonely journey.
Rest in peace, dear Ellen.