She shifted in her easy chair, trying to get a little more comfortable. Addressing Christmas cards was quite a task.
“No, she was just writing to be polite. No need to add her to the list.”
My mother was a prodigious correspondent. All her life, she’d been faithful to remember family and friends’ special occasions with a note or card and to respond quickly—usually within a few days—whenever she received a letter. In recent years, she’d embraced email, but now she was struggling to navigate the computer. And her exquisite handwriting had grown shaky; nearly illegible.
I’d volunteered to help address the cards and mail them for her, easing a burden that she still refused to relinquish.
As we addressed the cards, I wanted so much to ask her about the names I recognized only vaguely. Who were Marguerite and Jim? How did we know the Fishman family? Were we related to Lucille or was she a friend from bygone days? There were stories, I was sure, for whom she was the only source: relationships which I wanted to learn of and hold close. But, besides the real issue of her fatigue, asking those questions would have been an admission that she might not always be around with the answers. And I firmly closed my mind’s door on that thought.
Before the next Christmas, she was gone. And the stories, the relationships, the answers died with her. As I slowly turned the pages of her address book, I grieved the loss of those friendships that she had so cherished. I felt great sadness and regret for allowing my denial of her mortality to rob me of the opportunity to capture and carry forward precious memories and connections. A future without my mother had been inconceivable. I wish now I had had the courage to ask the delicate questions anyway.
Because freedom from regret is an incomparable gift you can give yourself, today.