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Windows To A Regretful Soul

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Those moments that are just burned into your memory and impossible to forget. The problem is they are often moments you could do without vividly reliving or recalling and yet, there they are – right in front of your eyes.

Have you ever seen someone very close to you edging towards death? Maybe they can’t communicate very well – if at all, but their eyes. . . looking glass to the soul. Seeing someone that is aware that their life may be coming to an end soon can be a terrifying experience. The last time that I saw my father, his eyes scared the hell out of me. He was like a 6 foot 5 child begging for help without making much of a sound. He was so frightened of what was going to come next: Death. Heaven. Hell. Limbo. Maybe nothing but a long dirt sleep. There was sheer terror in his eyes as well as tears of regret. For once, the shoe was on the other foot. He was the one at a disadvantage. He was the one needing help. Forgiveness. Redemption. Love. Something.

Years later, if I allow myself to think about it I can see his face on that day as if he is right in front of me. No other memory of him is half as vivid as that one.

I spent so many years livid with him, even hateful of him at times. But that last visit was unbearable. I just wanted to get out of that room because I couldn’t handle it. I don’t want to ever end up like him in so many ways but most of all, I don’t want to reach the end of my life feeling as he did, consumed with regret and fearful of an unimaginable type of retribution.

Those few moments spent in that room have changed me. I no longer make mistakes and expect to fix it later on. I apologize the moment I realize that I’ve caused someone unintentional hurt. I never leave the house or hang up the phone without saying a simple, “I love you.” to those closest to me. Random moments of kindness no longer go unoticed or get taken for granted.

I take comfort in knowing that if I’m gone tomorrow I won’t leave behind a list of unspoken words, a pile of promises that were broken and aplogies that I never bothered verbalize.

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  • After a massive heart attack I died. That was in 1994 and, with a lot of fighting, I am still around. However, that day on a critical care unit I realized that I had a serious problem and worked hard to raise a finger to ring for a R.N. Then I died. (Although hospital euphemisms had a nurse say later, “We just lost your pulse for a while.”).

    A crash team came and did CPR, played with medications, etc. After a while I was brought back. They looked so proud of themselves that I said, “Thank you” rather than “Why did you disturb me?” which would have been more appropriate. I had found a place without a painful body full of tubes and masks that was just as they have always said, “Rest in Peace”.

    Now I am a survivor who works hard to keep going. They originally said one year, maybe 3, possibly 5 and it will soon be 12. But one day my luck will run out and it is not frightening. Not something I want; I like the colors and smells and excitement of this world. But not something to fear either. It is the fear and the pain of getting there that hurt. The trip itself doesn’t.

    Maybe that will reassure you about your father. I hope so.