Regrets & Triggers
What might have been…the trigger of all triggers. The little girl dancing on the playground. The first day of school each year. Seeing girls scouts and gymnasts. They all set off emotions for me.
For the most part enjoy watching others reach these milestones. It is bittersweet. I wonder about what Clara’s likes and dislikes would be. Would we have Lincoln, would our lives be that different?
Yesterday as I was thinking about today’s topic I looked outside at our slide and immediately knew the image I wanted to capture. The backpack and doll suddenly dropped near the empty slide. It reminds me of the suddenness of Clara’s passing. How quickly she entered and exited our arms.
The empty slide are all the memories of a toddler and preschooler we missed. Her first words, first steps, first sentences, exploring, running, playing, preschool papers, coloring, and dress-up.
The backpack represents what she would have been now. A first grader. Would she be a righty or lefty? We missed her first bike ride, first bus ride, first day of school, school pictures, doll time. Would she be a dressy girl or sporty one? Would she love dolls or balls? Who would be her best friend?
While triggers pull at the heartstrings, regrets bring on guilt. A kind of guilt that can be so overwhelming it can consume our lives. It can lead to relationship problems, self worth issues, and even self medicating troubles. It can also be used in a positive way to help us make changes in our lives for the better.
I think like most people, I have regrets. Both Chris and I spent a lot of extra hours working. I found myself less patient. Her passing changed our outlook. Chris became less content with 60 hour work weeks, myself of working 12 days in a row. When our next child was born reality set it that we both needed to make a change.
We can look back and think about the what if’s but the best thing we can do in memory of our little ones is change the regrets that we can for the future. While we can’t change these regrets for the child we lost, we can use them to positively impact our daily lives now. By doing that we turn the negative feeling of regret into a more positive feeling. We see our child’s memory live out in a way that we can look ahead and say, “Their lives continue to be a part of my future.”. In a way it helps us heal.
I am not saying that a trigger won’t come along and make us feel regret or bring bittersweet tears to our eyes. It just means that those regrets won’t eat you alive because they will if you let them. Today I made a list of regrets and changes. It is good to see the changes our family has made to our regret list. I see some places where I would like to see more changes and a few that I simply cannot change. In that list I feel Clara’s memory alive and ever present in our daily lives. It is just one way I feel her life impact mine six years later.