We took advantage of slightly warmer weather to take Caroline and Charlotte to the playground yesterday. The playground itself was covered in pine mulch chips, so it was not slushy, but the yard we had to cross from the parking lot to the playground was full of mud through the whole middle of it. Caroline, who, by the way, had on brand new light-colored sneakers, was so excited to get to the playground that she ran right through the mud. Rachel immediately yelled, “Oh, no, Caroline! New shoes!” and rushed down the sidewalk to get to her.
“Caroline,” she wailed, “You ran through the mud in your new shoes!” To which Caroline looked up at her solemnly and asked, “And what should I have done?”
We had another death to deal with this week. An 89-year-old friend of ours died after a long, fulfilled life, although the quality of her life in the last few years had been greatly deteriorating. We had made it a point to take her out to eat several times (when she was felt well enough to get dressed and go out). We took her to tour the model home that we chose when we decided to build our new house. We visited her by ourselves, sometimes with Matthew, sometimes with Rachel and the girls. During one blizzard, we brought her a fresh flower bouquet, because she hated snow so much. We wanted to remind her that spring was indeed coming at some point. One day in the middle of summer, I took my harp to her apartment and gave an impromptu concert on her front porch, which she seemed to enjoy very much.
But after every death of someone close to us, I always find myself asking the question that Caroline asked. “What should I have done?” Then I expand on it. This week, I asked questions again. Should I have called Winnie more? Should we have brought her food when she didn’t feel like going out? Should I have brought her more flowers to cheer her up? Visited more? In other words, did we do enough?
There are some people in this life whom we care about very much. Death comes, and with it no more opportunities to show love. We all have busy lives, and amidst the stress and scheduling, we try to find time to do the actions which demonstrate love and caring. We remember all the times we said, “Hey, we should [call, visit, take out to dinner, take for a drive, pick up some things at the grocery for, check on, mail a card to, etc.].” In looking back, some plans never materialized, or something came up, or life just took another turn. Then the death, then the door shuts on all good intentions, then the inevitable question: What should I have done?