I try very, very hard not to live my life with regrets. We are only going in one direction, forward. No amount of begging, pleading or pretending can turn back the hands of time; that much I know is true.
However, I do feel the occasional gnawing at my soul of a long ago, impulsive move that may have been someone’s Tiny Moment. You remember those – many of us think about those tiny moments that change our lives.
I’ve often thought back to that April of my 21st year. My very best friend and sorority sister Sally and I convinced each other that instead of sending out resumes like all of the responsible level-headed graduates at the University of Oregon, we would take one last summer at the beach. It was a brilliant plan. As an afterthought, I thought we should also include my sister. Instead of going to college, she spent those four years in our hometown helping my mother make ends meet at her tiny gift shop.
That summer we all worked various jobs – waitressing, bartending, maid-service – and met a ton of fun people. Yeah, we basically lived the good life. As the summer came to an end and the vacationers dwindled, I decided to drive to California with two people I had worked with that summer. (I STILL can’t believe my mother let me go. That was a very brave thing for her to do.)
My sister decided to stay at the beach with several girlfriends she met while working at a large oceanfront hotel.
For many, many years I felt horrible about taking my sister from her home and our widowed mother. (Our mother died after a fall in a friend’s kitchen just several years later.) The guilt ate away at my heart bit by bit.
Finally, about five years ago, I got up the nerve to talk to her about it.
“You know, I always felt bad about talking you into coming to the beach that summer- away from mom. I think about it all the time. I am so sorry…”
“What? WHAT?? Are you kidding me? That was the best thing that anyone ever did for me! I got out of that little town and lived! It was absolutely wonderful, and I want to thank you for that. So here it is- Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! Now shut up and give me a piece of sour dough bread- and that HUGE piece of Brie.”