Anticipating the wit and banter they often bounced off each other, he held on while the phone rang. Hard to believe it’s been almost 30 years or so since they’d been studying together. Time had certainly flown! Disappointed, he left a message for his college buddy, and also his contact numbers.
The call he received a few weeks later left him stunned. How could that be? He had only spoken to his buddy a few weeks or so ago. Being a lawyer who crossed his ‘t’s’ and dotted his ‘i’s,’ he had a phenomenal memory on dates and now that he thought about it, it was actually during the fraud trial when he was run ragged trying to put it all together. That brief conversation was … hmmmm …. over six months ago!
Remorse hit him in the pit of his stomach. He had just learnt that his buddy, knowing his time was limited, had rung him to arrange a date, and to most likely say his farewell. He had promised to ring back but had not. At least not until now, when it was all too late. His college buddy had died a month after the request for the dinner.
This happened to a friend who co-runs a law firm with his wife, in the States and she related the sad story to me.
Although my experience is minor in comparison, I can relate to his regret. I looked up to a lady who was around my mother’s age group and we would have long conversations about all sorts of subjects. I admired her wit, her sharp memory and her enthusiasm in tackling any subject that crept into our talks, whenever we’d run into each other. She in turn would often say that she loved our chats and thoroughly enjoyed them.
When we met by chance one day, I was dismayed to learn that she had been quite ill with a chest infection and that she still felt breathless and weak. We managed to chat, albeit briefly, but it was nevertheless, delightful.
I met her again a few weeks later and she was still struggling to get her breath. It was however, more ragged and I could feel her distress. We hugged each other before parting.
I had a particularly busy period soon after, but thoughts of her flashed through my mind several times in the interim and I vowed to ring her. Several weeks later, I mentally reprimanded myself and made plans to ring her on the weekend. That weekend came and went with other demands intruding on my time, so once again, the call did not take place.
Imagine my consternation, shame and remorse when I learnt that she had died a few days later. The regret I felt still hits me from time to time. I know that she had no idea that I had planned on ringing her, or that she would have thought less of me for failing to do so, but I still felt guilt and regret for not making the time to ring her.
I learnt a great lesson from that experience and have since, made it a policy to ring, text, email or write to any friend who comes into my thoughts, especially if we have not spoken for some time. A message such as, ‘Thought of you today! Can we get together?’ is enough to get the ball rolling.
© Wendy Robinson
The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe