Overcoming Regret Advice
An Inquirer writes:
A few days ago, while doing my housework, I had the television on and heard your message that day. I ran to get a pencil and paper to write down how I could get more information about you. I thought you might be able to give me an answer to something that gets me down and pains my heart because of not having that answer.
Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of the day my father died in a traffic accident. When I arrived at the scene, my father was lying lifeless in the street. I didn't have time to say goodbye, and this has caused me unbearable grief. The night before, I had spoken with him on the phone. He was at a family gathering that I was unable to attend. His last words to me were, “Everything turned out well. All that was missing was you. I love you.” At that moment there were people around me and I was embarrassed to say, “I love you, too.” Even though I had often told him in person, I can't forgive myself for not having told him so that night, for the next time I saw my father he was cold as stone and couldn't hear a word I said.
Today, after four years, that pain in my heart keeps pressing on my chest, for I only wish I could have arrived in time to ask him to forgive me for not having answered his “I love you” with “Me too,” and to repeat to him, as I had other times, “I love you too, Daddy!
You don't tell us whether or not you are a parent yourself yet. The experience of having children teaches you many things. One of the things you learn very early is that a toddler will withhold hugs and kisses for no apparent reason. A five‑year‑old child will throw tantrums and try to get away from a parent who is making him do something he doesn't want to do. A nine‑year‑old may scream, “I hate you!” when the parent punishes him. And teenagers? They go through stages in which they say things that hurt their parents' feelings on a daily basis.
A parent has about twenty years to live and learn alongside the child. The parent forgives without being asked because he loves. The relationship between parent and child cannot be condensed down to any one moment or one conversation. The bond that has grown over many years does not get damaged just because of one, two, or three times when the conversation didn't end with mutual affirmations of affection.
In that last conversation, your father probably realized that there were people around you. He knew that you loved him with all your heart regardless of the actual words you said. We promise you that he did not give it a second thought when he hung up the phone. His thoughts were more along the lines of wanting you to know that he was thinking of you even though you couldn't be with him.
How wonderful that he freely expressed his love to you and that you freely told him that you loved him many times! There are so many daughters who have never heard their father say those words. Your father would want you to spend your energy and thoughts on remembering all the good times you shared, not on reliving repeatedly an insignificant moment in time. By concentrating solely on that one instant, you are disregarding all that your father did in his life to create a loving relationship with you.
Our Heavenly Father is the greatest example we have of parental love. He loved us even before we were born. He loved us knowing that we would hurt and reject Him. And He loves us today even when we don't make any effort to spend time with Him or talk to him through prayer. He loves us anyway, as did the man that you were blessed to call your father.
Linda and Charles