Monday, August 3, 2015


I recently traveled to Pendleton, Oregon via Portland to attend a wedding with my manfriend, Dale. Driving along the Columbia River, I requested to stop at Multnomah Falls, a place that I hiked often with my little family when we lived in Portland almost 18 years ago. I was totally unprepared for the flood of emotions I felt as we stood at the base of the falls.

The next morning in our hotel, after engaging in a ruckus round of early morning texts with my siblings- not an unusual exchange and something my son, Patrick, refers to as a Lebanese alarm clock- my brother, Johnnie, who lives in Pullman, Washington, singled me out in communication.

“Did you drive or fly in?” he inquired.

I responded: “We flew into Portland. Made me sad. Good memories.”

” Yes.. I bet.” He replied.

Me: “Don’t you wish you could have some do-overs in life?”

My brother, Johnnie, left the Catholic church years ago for a more fundamental Christian congregation and I quite expected him to come back with a bible verse that might elevate me out of the mundane into the spiritual realm.

But his response surprised me.

“Yes.” He said simply.

Now I would not bore/shock you with the list of potential do-overs that I have experienced in my life. Some are huge detours I’ve taken off the main road and some are on a smaller scale yet significant nonetheless. A few are so private and personal that I don’t even allow them into my conscious awareness, never mind share them with my closest friend. Most have had far reaching ramifications that were impossible to foresee.

I am going to make a list of those potential do-overs for myself, have a good cry, and then create a ceremonial burning so that I can face the future without regret, remorse and existential angst. If you decide to make your own list, I’d love to hear how that goes for you. Hopefully we can be the salve to heal one another’s disappointments in life, missed opportunities and painful mistakes.

5 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Rosemarie. I understand so many of your feelings. This summer, I went home to South Dakota for the first time since my grandmother died there 25 years ago. Her house was always “home” to us as we traveled the world. (In the military, you have “quarters,” not a “home.” That was Grandma’s house in Sturgis.) For the first time in my life, I could not just walk into her house. It belongs to someone else now, after belonging to her for over 50 years. I wanted nothing more than for time to turn back for just a few minutes so she could come running out the door laughing and crying at the same time because I was home again. Instead, I bought the most beautiful pink roses I could find (her favorite) and put them on her grave. Spending the day in Sturgis with old friends, seeing my old school, our parish church, and other significant places was bittersweet. I don’t think I would want to live in Sturgis again – the bikers have ruined the town. But it will always be home.

    • I love this, Kimberly. I am going to plan a trip back to Portland to see old friends, my old house, and just let the memories flood. I guess there’s nothing wrong with being nostalgic for the past. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

  2. I regret nothing. I do wish I could make peace with some of the things others have done which has affected me. But that is for them to wrestle with, and not me. To accept our choices, good and bad, means we accept ourselves as fully human with all the flaws that are the nature of humanity. Every one of those events that make us look back and wonder are part of who we are now.

    • I totally agree with you, Rosemary, that each decision we make creates the person we are today. I love that I am fully human and flawed. It makes it all feel less traumatic. Thank you for reminding me to accept my humanity and move on with a positive attitude.

  3. I love the idea of making a list of those slightly painful memories with the tags “if only I’d done this differently” attached to them. I would like to make peace with them and move on, just as you’ve written, Rosemarie. In fact, it is not too late for the do-overs to occur, in some form or another. One that is with me always: why didn’t I join the Anaheim high school choir when I moved from Prairie Village, Kansas to Anaheim at age 16? I loved singing and I had had a bad experience in Kansas that left me feeling that it wasn’t something I should (or could) do anymore. Well, that’s my do-over today. I sing every chance I get now. What a relief. Thanks so much for sharing this story!

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