Sudden death makes grieving a bit more complicated. It has to do with the unspoken word. No chance to say “sorry” or “love you” or “thank you” or whatever else needed to be said. If I could give one piece of advice about any unfinished business, it would be to forgive yourself and talk to your loved one now because he/she is listening.
Much of the high school years for William and I were difficult. We butt heads a lot. The truth is I was an overprotective nag who did not choose her battles wisely. Clearly, I did not understand his military dream and my instincts led me in a direction that only a parent like me could understand. I needed to protect him from himself because no one else would.
It made no sense that at age 17 he could sign on that enlisted dotted line rather than go to college. He was smart, had his whole life ahead of him and wouldn’t that life be better with a college education, a bit more age and as an officer? Like my father I was determined to offer my children the best education I could. So off to one of the best high schools in the country he would go. Surely, he would change his mind and aspire to higher education like his peers.
OK, I admit I was wrong. While William flourished socially and athletically, he did just enough to get by academically. At this time in his life he just wasn’t interested in math or science or thoughts of college and I mistakenly thought I could change that. When I think about all those times I was breathing down his neck about homework, or being upset over grades or him not living up to expectations it makes me sad that I wasted so much precious time rather than seeing the road less travelled was the perfect path for him.
William graduated Valedictorian (OMG) of his navy corpsman class. There never was a doubt in my mind that when he loved something he could and would do it better than any one else. His Navy mission is what he loved and I finally came to grips with that. I apologized for being the nag. I admitted I was wrong. He understood my fears and I understood his dreams. These were the best words ever spoken in addition to “I love you no matter what.”
Don’t let the sour moments cloud all the good. Let them go. Where there is love there is forgiveness. Now, forgive me for sharing this most delicious sour cherry pie because I am not certain that sour cherries are readily available right now–maybe frozen or jarred. Certainly tuck it away for when you want to celebrate one of our great military leaders, George Washington, come February.