Dear Dad,

In my support group they say that it is important not to live with guilt, but rather to frame those feelings in regret. Guilt, they say, will become all consuming, regret is difficult, but in time it is easier to learn to live with. Makes sense…

So, I wanted to tell you a few things I regret.

I regret that we lost six precious years together due to our estrangement. I know we came out of it stronger, we did more than simply survive it. But I do wish it hadn’t taken us so long to find healing, wholeness & renewal. How many more precious memories might we have had?

I regret that I did not recognize the full depth of your suffering.

I regret any time I encouraged you to “fake it until you feel it.” How exhausting it must have been to try…

I regret that when you told me you truly felt depressed, that I didn’t ask you if you ever thought of harming yourself. It didn’t occur to me. You never said it.

I regret that in all of our talks, and there were so many, that I wasn’t able to give you more, to do more, to see more. I tried. I tried to listen, to be present, to validate all that you felt and to encourage you to get help, to keep talking, to continue treading water, rather than sink.

I regret that I did not get to say goodbye one final time.

I regret that I did not get to tell you I love you one final time.

I regret that I didn’t truly understand the signs. People ask often if there were any. The answer is yes, but without a full understanding of the symptoms of depression, without knowing that you were only sharing a part of your pain & suffering, without you ever uttering the words that would set off the alarms–I didn’t see them.

I’m sorry Dad. I regret that I couldn’t do more. I loved you as best as I could. I regret that it wasn’t enough to help save you.

And most of all–I regret that you and I will not have more time together.

Deborah

deb and dad baby

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