Forever’s a long time for regrets

One of my new coworkers is facing potential catastrophe with the love of her life. We were just casually talking the other day after I transferred her hubby’s call to her, saying “A really sexy sounding gentleman alleges he’s your husband…”

We got to talking for a few minutes later in the day and I began the small talk, asking how long they’d been married. 28 years, she told me.

I tend to size people up by what they say after the length of the marriage. “Still going strong” is what she then said, with a warm smile, staring pointedly into my eyes. I asked what the secret was and she said the standard, “We’re best friends.” But I could tell when she said it that she meant it, and more than a dozen people today have told me the same thing of her relationship — they’re best friends.

Evidently, she and her husband had been sitting around last night, drinking wine, laughing as he read her a play he’d just finished writing for a theatre production this fall. He got up to go get a glass of water and suddenly began vomiting and turning blue. Next thing you know, he’s in the hospital with a mystery virus, in ICU, hanging on for his life in some inexplicable coma.

I said earlier this week, “Never assume the persons you love know how you feel. Say what you think. Say it often.”

I just think it’s important to remember how life can turn around for you in an instant. Every harsh word you say could be the last those in your life ever hear. We get complacent and take for granted the routines of today will be the routines we endure tomorrow. Complacency, ignorance, optimism, naivety — call it what you will. Every one of those qualities can be incredibly destructive if it leads to you living a lifetime of regret for words that can never be stricken from your past.

Live the life you know won’t leave you cloaked in regret. Say the things you can later be proud you said. Should’ve/could’ve/would’ve… It’s so fucking cliche, yet every day we see constant reminders of how fleeting our lives are. Still, each of us is guilty for forgetting those simple truisms — be it for a moment, or for years.

I have a feeling her husband will recover. But if he doesn’t, the only thing she’ll have to do is mourn him — not regret her choices, her words, or the life they lived together. That’s something, at least. And that’s something I know firsthand from losses I’ve endured; losses that came with great pain, but never regrets.