Anything you regret doing or not doing in your life?
I’ve got two. Here’s one of them:
In 1992, I attended an out-of-state funeral. Until then, I rarely knew the deceased. My cousin Lizzie died; the one with a mustache who always wanted to kiss me on the lips. That’s not the regret, though I REALLY regret it.
That Sunday, Mom and I dropped off my grandmother (her mother) in New Jersey and we went home. Gram (as I called her) had been coughing a lot the whole trip through Monday. My mom asked my uncle to take Gram to the hospital. He said she was “fine,” and he’d take her to the doctor Tuesday morning.
Still concerned, my mom decided to drive to New Jersey and asked if I wanted to go.
I said “no,” and continued playing my football video game. Monday was the last time I saw Gram alive.
When I was writing The Anarchists, I dug into how I felt about that – just like Damario, Harper, Quinne, and Teanna eventually had to do. For about two years, I was depressed more than a 16-year-old should be. I drank alcohol from my mom’s cabinet and did not want to live anymore. Unlike the first funeral I experienced at 6, or the half dozen or so afterward, this one hurt me to my soul. If I was a character in my book and got the opportunity to “begin again” in 1992, I’d get in that Toyota hatchback with my mom and go to the hospital without hesitation.
If I did, my last memories of Gram might be different. Maybe I needed not to go to get to this kind of closure:
One day, ten years later, I was driving to class in North Philly. The skies opened and shined sunlight through my windshield. Not to sound spooky, but I heard God tell me that Gram was in my life to help raise me, and when she finished, He took her. It was a peace I still carry, don’t understand, can’t fully describe, and wish I could pass on to you.
What’s my other regret? You know what: it doesn’t matter so much anymore. Relax, it’s not like I was going to tell you anyway