A Regret

            I was sitting with my aunt the other day after a family dinner outside in the backyard of our house. My parents had invited the whole family for dinner and several people were inside my house at that time. I wanted to get some fresh air so I stepped outside the back door to find my aunt sitting on one of the chair, a cigarette in her hand and a glass of wine in another.

            “Come, sit with me,” she said. I could tell that she was a little inebriated but I liked her. She had always been nice to me and I remember having some good times at her house with I was young.

            “Tell me,” she said. “Do you have any regrets in your life? I mean, I know you are still young but is there anything in the past that you have done that you regret today?”

            I told her that no, I was pretty satisfied with my life and how I had been living life.          

My aunt chuckled and said, “Ah to be young again. When I was your age, the world was so perfect. Everything was so easy.”

“What about you?” I asked her. “Do you regret anything in your life?”

My aunt went on to tell me that it was just a few days ago that someone had asked her this same question and she had told them the same answer that I had just given her: that no, in the past 35 years that she had been alive, she did not have any regrets in life. If she had a chance to live her life all over again, she would live it exactly the same, even making all the mistakes that she had made in her life. Of course, there were several things that were not ideal in her life and she had had some very bad experiences, but she said that she would have lived them exactly the same because that is what made her the person she was.

However, this is when my aunt started to cry. I asked her if she was ok and she said that she had lied to her friend the other day. She said that there was something that she truly did regret in her life and she wanted to get it off her chest. She asked me if I was willing to listen, and when I nodded my head, she started telling me her story.         

She was in high school when she first fell in love. It was something magical, like out of a fairy tale. She was sitting in class one day when a boy walked into the classroom and she immediately fell in love with him. It was – she assured me – love at first site. He had just recently moved to the neighborhood and it was his first day at school. My aunt saw him for the first time and fell in love.

She told me their story as to how they started talking and started to like each other; how he asked her out for a date and she said yes; their first kiss and their prom dance together. She told me that it was the best time of her life. They were completely in love with each other and could not bear to be away from each other for more than a few hours. They would constantly be in touch with each other over the phone, as well as through online chatting and emails. That was the time when there were no smartphones but they did have cellphones as well as dial-up Internet. She would log on to her AOL account every night and they would chat online until she would fall asleep.

Everything was going perfectly for them, until a terrible accident happened.

My aunt woke up one morning to find a message from her boyfriend telling him that he was in the hospital and that her parents had been in an accident. My aunt rushed to the hospital and by the time she got there, her boyfriend’s mother had passed away.

It was a terrible time for her boyfriend. He had been extremely close to his mother and they had shared a very loving bond. Having his mother pass away completely destroyed him. His whole demeanor changed. He went from being someone who was always smiling and making jokes to someone who would sit alone in the corner and brood.

My aunt told me that this was when things started to go bad between the two of them. Her boyfriend stopped picking up his phone and he would reply to her texts very late. This was something that infuriated my aunt because her relationship with her boyfriend had completely changed. They used to text each other all the time and now she left without him. This is when things took the turn for the worse.

My aunt was quite young at the time, around 18 years old, and she admitted that she was insecure. Various problematic images started to come to her head, such as that her boyfriend was ignoring her because he was actually cheating on her. She started to send him these crazy messages about how he was ignoring her and how she felt like he had left her alone. This did not help them in the relationship, as their relationship became even more strained.

One day something happened that broke the camel’s back. My aunt’s boyfriend had picked her up and they were going out on a date. Things had been tense between them and they thought that they might try to start anew after the rocky road the past few days. They were on the road when they started arguing again. My aunt became really furious and she threw her phone inside the car, which hit the windshield and shattered it. They almost got into an accident.

After that, it was over between them. They stopped seeing each other and did not talk to each other for many years.

My aunt told me that that was something that she regretted the most in her life. She met that boy again several years later and they had a conversation like two mature adults. That was when my aunt realized that the young boy at the time was going through such a terrible time. He had just lost his mother suddenly in a car accident and it was extremely difficult for him to cope with all of that. My aunt did not realize all that and she did not understand him at all.

She told me that she regrets the way that she acted. She wished that she could go back and listen to the boy more; to understand what was going through in his mind and heart; to be more empathetic; and to be a much better girlfriend and a kinder, gentler human being.

“You say that your life is perfect right now,” my aunt said at the end. “But you are going to face some very difficult times in your life. I want you to learn from my mistakes and please me more mature about how you handle your relationships, especially if it is the love of your life. If you can do that, you would truly not have any regrets in your life.”