Because I Have Regrets

One of my favorite things about Emily was her snarky comments. She lived for them, and they always made me laugh. One of her favorite choice phrases was, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” She uses that one quite a bit, and no matter how many times she said it, I still chuckled.

Unfortunately, I lived out that exact comment this morning. I knew when I first popped the top at lunch time that I’d regret it later, but at the time I didn’t care. My whole existence is about damage control and pain management right now, and I’ve decided time and time again that the short-term relief is worth the aftermath.

As I climbed out of bed and got the kids ready for school, I could just hear Emily my ear with her snarky comments and “I told you so” responses. However, I also know she would have been there beside me, caring for my broken body if she could have been.

A Mountain of Regrets

At least once a day, those final hours play through my mind like a cinematic masterpiece. I get goosebumps as I reach the point where I woke up to that first episode. I can hear the blaring of the heart monitor and see her sitting there completely unresponsive but making a noise. I feel the panic spread through my body as I try to talk to her and the team rushes into the room with the crash cart.

It’s all still there, as clear as day. And right there alongside it is a mountain of regrets. I wish I’d asked her more about how she was feeling as she fell asleep. I wish I’d forced myself to stay up instead of sleeping in the chair beside her bed. I wish I’d forced her to let me lay beside her in the bed so we could have cuddled up one last time. I wish I’d been more assertive and insisted on holding her hand the whole time instead of thinking that being out of the way was what the doctors needed… I could keep going for hours.

But, in reality, those regrets I have about that final night hardly scratch the surface. The root of the issue is much deeper than that, and it goes back to wasted time.

I Thought We’d Always Have More Time

I remember the exact night I knew my feelings for Emily ran much deeper than an average friendship. It was November 30, 2019 — the night we went to a benefit concert for To Write Love On Her Arms. Lizzo was the headliner.

I pulled up to Emily’s apartment to pick her up, and my jaw dropped. She wasn’t overly dressed up, but it was clear she’d put in a lot of effort into her outfit and her makeup. When she got in the car and smiled at me, my heart skipped a beat. What’s happening right now?

I loved every moment of that night, from the car ride to the concert all the way to the late-night stop at IHOP on the way home. There were several times where I wanted to tell her what I was feeling, but I worried about how she’d respond. It would also require me to tell her something that I hadn’t told anyone yet except my therapist: My marriage was officially over — we planned to file for divorce after the holidays.

I’ll always regret not telling her how I felt that night because I’ll never know if it would have given us more time.

Instead, I patiently waited. I followed my therapist’s advice to stay single for a year. I watched her date someone else and even pretended to be happy about it because I thought she was happy with him.

I did the same thing with my proposal — I patiently waited instead of just going for it. I knew we both wanted to get married. I knew she would say yes. But she’d told me to wait until after she finished her master’s, and then I wanted to make sure I planned out the fairytale proposal she deserved.

I’ll regret not proposing sooner because we could have had more time to plan and possibly even walk down the aisle.

Then I think about what she said when our pastor came to see us in the emergency room the day before she died. She said, “This feels a lot like 2017.” I tried to laugh it off, but I did make a joke that if it was really a repeat of that year, then I was going to ask our pastor to break a lot of rules and perform a marriage ceremony.

Gosh, I regret not actually doing that. Even if it wouldn’t have mattered or been legally binding in any way, at least I could have shared just how much I loved her before she went.

The One Thing I Will Never Regret

I regret so many things, probably because hindsight is 20/20. However, the one thing I will never regret is falling in love with Emily. I’d do it all over again with her in a heartbeat, even if I knew what I know now.

My relationship with Emily was everything I could have ever dreamed of and more. She loved me unconditionally, but she also challenged me to be the best possible version of myself. She was willing to validate and support me, but she also wasn’t afraid to call me out on my shit when I needed it. She accepted me as I was, and she encouraged me to be my most authentic self. She treated my children like her very own, and she tried her best to get along with my ex for the kids’ sake. Every day with Emily was magical, and I was the happiest I’d been in over a decade with her by my side.

So, yes, if I could travel back in time to that day at Hooters or, even more so, that day Emily walked into the group therapy room armed with the knowledge I have now, I’d still make the exact same decisions I made over and over again. I will never regret befriending her and, more importantly, loving her. I don’t regret pledging my heart to her, even if that means I will never find love again. Her love is worth every tear, every anxiety attack, and every dollar I’ve had to spend on therapy sessions since October 19.

I have a lot of regrets surrounding my own decisions, but not a single one of those regrets is because of Emily. In fact, there’s a lot in the past 4 years of my life that I’m quite proud of thanks to her… and that will never change.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s