Janet’s in the hospital. Knee replacement.
She went in on Tuesday and I haven’t had a chance to visit until today. And oh, how sorry I am that I haven’t visited earlier. I didn’t know the extent of her misery or how easily I could have assuaged it.
I told her yesterday that I would visit today and I further informed her, “I’ll bring chocolate covered pretzels.”
And I did. I arrived at about 12:30. As I reached her room, but was still a number of paces from it, I could peer in and see the misery on her face. All the plates of spongy Salisbury steak and metallic mashed potatoes and impermeable pork chops had taken their toll. With deep anxiety etched into her face she didn’t even have a chance to say hi before the desperate words fell from her lips, “Did you bring the chocolate covered pretzels???”
There was a moment of cringing vulnerability, of steeling herself for the Bad News, but I was quick to reassure her, “Yes. Yes, I did.” And oh, the joy that ensued! The poor famished woman was finally able to eat something that didn’t taste like a pair of Boy10’s socks (ghastly).
My visit with Janet comes right on the heels of struggling with Regret.
Years and years ago, new neighbors moved onto our street; a young couple, maybe 10 years younger than me. I spoke with them a few times. The husband invited us to a cookout on the Fourth of July. When they had a baby, I visited for a few minutes in their house. The husband was chatty, but the wife was quiet. In the middle of the visit, the husband said, “You should become friends with my wife. She needs friends.” The wife just sat there, being quiet.
Over the years I’ve had a strong feeling I should have become friends with the wife. Strong, strong feelings. But I ignored them. She’s young–why would she want someone so much older hanging around? She’s so quiet, it would be an effort to make conversation. How would I even start the friendship? Just show up at her door and barge in?
Of course, you can easily see through those lame excuses. So what if she’s younger? I have lots of friends outside of my age range, and I like my older friends. So what if she’s quiet? I can certainly talk enough for two, or even learn to sit quietly. And as if I don’t know how to start a friendship—ridiculous! I know how it’s done. Barging right in is pretty much how I start all my new friendships.
But I was lazy. For all these years I’ve been thinking, “I should befriend this woman.” And didn’t. Out of sheer laziness.
A few days ago, the husband caught up with Darling Husband and me outside our house. He told us that his wife just left him and took his two children a few states away. He was slightly drunk and very miserable. Somewhere in the middle of him pouring out his misery he said, “If only she had had a friend…” He went on to explain why, but I’m not going to write that here on a public blog.
But I have to agree with his reasons. Yes. She needed a friend. From what he said, she needed someone cheery and who lives a drama-free life. She needed an older friend with a teeny bit more perspective than she had. Not to sound too presumptuous, but she needed me.
And I knew it. I knew it all along. I would say that it was God nudging me and telling me to befriend her, but I didn’t listen.
And I blew it. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, because good people just sit there and do nothing…when they know better. And it looks like there will be no second chance to fix this. She’s hundreds of miles away.
I don’t understand when people say they don’t have regrets, because I sure do. People say that we learn from our regrets and grow from them, but I’d much rather learn from my successes. I think I’d have grown more as a person, not from ignoring what I should have done, but from doing what I should have done.
With that said, I am so glad that I visited Janet today. You know, it was a crazy-busy day and I didn’t really have the time to visit, and I could have just said, “Janet, I’m super busy. I’ll stop by the house when you get out of the hospital,” and she’d have understood. But friends don’t do that. Friends make the time to visit you when you’re in pain and the food is bad, and they chat with you until you drift off to sleep, full of chocolaty treats.
No more regrets, right?
Picture of the day:
Chocolate covered pretzels in a sea of sprinkles.