Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Regrets, I’ve had a few. But not love.

In my emailbox today I received the gift of these words: “Never regret love. No matter how blind, it improved your world view. No matter how foolish, it made you wiser. And no matter how generous, it made you more.” It was a rather nice coda to a comment made by my ex-spouse a few days ago, when he said to me: “You made two mistakes in your life, each time you said ‘I do.’”

A very low, and unnecessary, blow, sir.

Yeah, yeah. I’ve been married twice and no matter what anybody says, I don’t look back on either state of matrimony as a mistake. The first may have been a little misguided (*cough* young *cough-cough* naïve) and rushed. I mean, the man did blurt out the proposal under the rather large belly of a Midwestern Bob’s Big Boy wannabe fiberglass statue in the middle of a Nebraska windstorm and 20 year old me, just sort of nodded yes to the 29 year old him. I guess I figured if it wasn’t romantic, at least it was whimsical and unconventional. The courtship, engagement and marriage were all brief, in total less than four years, but the lessons learned and personal growth (speaking for myself) were, to quote that credit card ad, priceless. It’s a shame he’s never spoken to me since, because as the mother of a nearly 19 year old girl, there is an awful lot I’d like to say about what transpired between us once upon a time. But even now, with a seasoned perspective, I still wouldn’t say I regret it or that I’d made a mistake.

As for my second marriage, there are plenty of reasons I could (and nobody could blame me if I did) call it a mistake. But I won’t. Because, I can honestly say that the 25 years of interacting with my 2nd husband has been the most interesting bowl of Halloween candy. Ever. Our relationship has been (and I hope will continue to be) a very large collection of sweet mixed with the bittersweet; some things to be savored; some crap to throw out; some items that looked suspiciously poisonous and noxious – but the gathering, sorting and tasting of it all? No regrets. With two delicious kids to show for it and a pantry full of memories, my heart is full.

It was also broken along the way.

Not long ago, a Facebook friend asked how many times a heart could be broken. My answer was that I like to think of the heart like a stained glass window. We may end in pieces when all is said and done, but those pieces are colored by many and crafted over time to still let light through — so much more beautifully than maybe a single, intact pane would. Sure, the last thing you want when you install a window is for some punk kid to come along and break it, but if he does, you might forgive him when you hear the story of what exactly happened. It doesn’t excuse the behavior, but you sweep up, try to repair and move on. And hope that the kid grows up. And moves away.

No, I don’t regret love. Not in any form. Babies lost… marriages unraveled… friendships dissolved… love unrequited… liaisons failed… So many different kinds of love, so many tears shed – but I regret none of it. But, maybe it’s true that time heals all wounds and with age comes wisdom (an excellent trade-off for wrinkles, aches and pains, no?) Henry David Thoreau said “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

Wikipedia describes regret as a “negative conscious and emotional reaction to personal past acts and behaviors” – described as such, love is truly one of the things in my very long life that I do not regret. However, in high school, I broke a boy’s heart because I wouldn’t accept his class ring, not because I didn’t adore him with every fiber of my being, but because I was moving nearly 300 miles away. Where I thought I was being logical, trying to save us both the heartbreak of him meeting another girl (more geographically desirable) that he might want to give his ring to, he thought I was being cold and heartless. If I have any regrets about love, it’s that I wish 16 year old me had been better able to express herself in a wiser way that would’ve protected his feelings and helped him understand that I was trying to see that only one of us drove away crying.

No, I don’t regret love. Not at any level. Love has let light come into my life, illuminating (and sometimes shadowing) the world around me in the most incredible and unexpected ways. So, no… I don’t regret love. There are plenty of other things (seriously, loads of other things), I do regret. Unfortunate clothing choices, dinner dates and words left unsaid, oh my! But that’s another blog – and maybe even another contest – for another time.

“I do not regret one moment of my life.” – Lillie Langtry

“Me either.” – t.

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