Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials . . . 2 Peter 2:9
Regret–the cruelty, pain and poison of regret. My husband and I had to put our hound dog of 18 years to sleep on Wednesday. He had been diagnosed in June 2010 with a month to live (with a tumor covering 90 per cent of his pancreas) but he lived long after . . . up until this week of course after being diagnosed with out-of-control diabetes.
Over the last 16 months, he got thinner, mangier, slower but could still talk to me with his eyes. He became more of an “old-man,” wanted his space, grew distant, but still cuddled to the touch of our hand. And as he grew sicker in life, I found myself watching at a distance as his disease took over other organs, forced more sleep and frustrating nights of sleeplessness. He was ever demanding–desiring food variety–his favorite, a McDonald’s hamburger.
Why the regret you ask? Because even though he could no longer run, he still liked to smell the flowers; he could no longer climb the steps, but he wanted to get in his bed, near us, most nights nonetheless. He was in an older body but still embodied the quality of my “pumpkin boy” of his younger self inside his deteriorating frame. But I grew impatient at times with him, he didn’t walk outside much with me anymore because he was too slow. I had every intention of walking him this last Sunday, but I didn’t.
I regret not kissing him more, I regret not taking a slow walk with him so it could be about his searching nose and not the haste and selfishness of myself. I have so much regret I could package in a large suitcase but I see redemption upon the sun-filled hillside where he now frolics in heaven. His coat is a silky orange-brown with a white mane collaring his neck. He runs and jumps amongst the grains of heaven’s floor and he knows youth and no sickness.
I reflect anew suddenly. Loss is loss. Regret is just that, regret. We all have it. And I started to think how many mothers have child-rearing regrets, our residents regret situations they can’t redress, or the opportunity cost of spending time away from a loved one because we’re too tired to engage, or the child who wants to play but we are putting the dishes away; or my mother who just wants to be with me.
How many of us hoard our regret inside the timeless span of our heart and assume that time will always be there for us to squeeze it out? So today is our chance. Spill out to God any regrets and he will take them and cast them away and free you from this rapacious bug that eats away at the soul with quiet force. Speak openly and out to those you can, wipe regret clean, change habits, slow down, smell the fall chill and let it land on your nose. Pray for others to know that “you are sorry,” or tell them yourself. Let us stop being so busy, let us bundle ourselves in the love of what is near in both God and family, friends and animals. Let us speak of regrets, and let God hear our cries: what we didn’t say, or what we didn’t do, and let us be free. Let us wink at heaven and know we are free.
Vice President of Spirituality