Sunday, August 9, 2009

Were there really no regrets?

Last night I read some old email from Leif, all the way back to the summer of 2000 when Nikko left him and he was very depressed, and thinking about how he always insisted he had no regrets. I wonder if that was true to the end. Knowing Leif, I believe he would have insisted it was true, for, as he said in email to me on September 9, 2000,

"But if there is one truism that I believe in it is that you don't regret the things you do or even the mistakes you have made. You only regret the chances you pass up and the opportunities you let slip away."

Then I think of what that really means . . . no regrets about what he has done, but what about the opportunities that he let slip away? I wonder if he thought about those, too.

He was always to eager to seize the moment, to be spontaneous, to have what he wanted today without enough regard to his future, that there were opportunities that slipped away or were closed off to him.

We talked about regret a few times, and he maintained that even the things he had chosen that turned out badly were not cause for regret, because they were experiences in his life that were valuable and that he would not have chosen to avoid.

A possible exception, he admitted to me, was choosing to enlist in the infantry for four years instead of some other army specialty for a lesser time, but even that he backed off of, because he loved being a machine gunner, treasured his friendship with his assistant gunner, Jim (who he sadly lost contact with once they were out of the army), and was proud of being a "boots on the ground" soldier.

But that night when he blew a 45 caliber bullet into his brain, he threw away all the opportunities he would ever have in his future. Would he have even then steadfastly insisted he had no regrets?

I have regrets. I regret that I didn't somehow see that he was in such deep trouble, that I didn't insist he get help (though he probably would have refused), that there wasn't some way I could keep him alive. I regret the things that came between us, which were almost always his finances or when he didn't live up to some agreement about his living arrangements. I regret that I didn't insist on seeing him more often in the last months of his life.

Did he know how much he was loved?

This photo was taken on March 1, 2003,

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