MORNING COFFEE 47 - remorse

By Susan Weber

Bereavement for me has taken a turn. The fog of sudden loss—for death is sudden even when it stalks its prey over long distances—had me honoring each invitation. You’d find me at dinners and lunches, at coffees and happy hours, galas, potlucks, road trips and plane trips where people and places and family reunions grabbed my attention for weeks on end. Sometimes the party would come to me, family members sifting through the sediment of life gone by. It was, all of it, a noble quest for fresh beginnings. What could be finer, said my dear ineffectual logic, than to cram each moment with worthy reminders of how things used to be?

It turns out that the loss of one’s beloved is a fierce challenger to life at its frolicking best. The beast does not take kindly to being ignored. It rears up with claws extended, eager to show you the pitiful weakling of gristle and spit you are, barely surviving the assault.

When you come to admit that nothing will ever be the same, the despondency you’ve felt when surrounded by plenitude begins to take on meaning. The life you once took for granted has now become tooth and nail tearing into your bedraggled hide. You look around you and sometimes all is not well; you begin to question. Why does this one criticize, that one patronize a partner, for instance, when the mere existence of a mate is an unequivocal wonder? You’re tempted to shake the perpetrator by the shirt shouting, look at what you’re doing here! What if she disappeared or he vaporized of a sudden, petulance smarting on your tongue?

At this point, mother nature comes to me speaking words of wisdom. Not long ago, all the shaking in the world wouldn't have transformed me into picture perfect generous, compassionate mate.

Remorse comes in retrospect to humble the living. Those two slender syllables hold all the lost opportunities to have loved as well as my husband deserved. Remorse is regret stained with culpability, it is grief’s glum companion in the best of times and dagger to the heart in the worst. And though the wise ones remind me that no one is perfect, not even my good man, there is no way around my trove of feelings.

In the deft turnings of bereavement though shadowy caves, I never know where it will take me next. Now I welcome others on my path, interspersed with miles of solitary exploration. And when my companions laugh and play and struggle with relationships they hold dear, they're teaching me forgiveness by their joys and missteps, softening the pangs of my remorse.

Photo by Bas Lammers CC BY 2.0