The commute to work was the grieving window that gray day. Cram in all the feelings, regrets and doubts while tailgating, jockeying lanes for faster passing, hurtling somewhere I didn’t even want to go. It felt really important during that particular drive to catalogue my grievances with myself, with the universe. I should have done more, less, better, faster, more often.
I mourn the passing of time—doesn’t everyone? The toothy toddler grin, open and accepting and readily doled out, is now an occasional smirk—and now with a bonded tooth because of that little asshole who pushed him into a pole at that stupid private school. Why did I even send him to private school? I could really make something out of this regret thing. Gimmick: “Regret: A Two-Act Play.” Story pitch: “Surviving Regret: The Middle Years.” Podcast: “Let’s Compare All the Things We Forgot To Do with Our Children.”
Yet regret--it bubbles up, unwelcome, a geyser of lies. Rationally I know it’s lies, or at least only one side of the story. But it’s exhausting to have to talk yourself in and out of every mood. Take a regular Tuesday, walking around town and observing mothers and children doing their daily things, mailing a package or getting a bagel. My brain must kick in to survive this. You had that. Most days you loved it. Most days you honored it. You said out loud: This is the sweet spot. You said, Life is hard but so, so good. And yet still I am here, mourning. Time does pass, pages turn.
(Please, let the mourning be brief.)
And so when I thought I’d drown in the abundance of feelings on that drive, the perpetual tears-in-the-back-of-the-throat feeling that sometimes greets me first thing in the morning, I said, just before turning left on Strawberry Street: instead, catalog the good moments or at least honor them here, recognize that they existed. Quality times. Tell yourself, there was even quality in quantity: You were home. A lot. Not with home-baked cookies, but with safety, security and presence. Clean laundry and never-ending Tostitos and salsa.
I may have raged this: I miss I mourn I want I wish…but really, what I’m raging through the days is I love, I love, I love.