Life is full of regrets.

A friend, I have known almost all of my adult life once gave me this piece of advice: I would rather regret the things I’ve done than the things I haven’t.

I so loved the sound of that. In fact it became a mantra for me. Perhaps more of a way to excuse some questionable choices typical of youth.

Time has a way of tempering such impulsivity.

But regret like with grief, comes in waves at the most particular times.

We spent an afternoon watching old videos, that thanks to Past 11 Productions who digitized them.

Up on the screen, larger than life was Ryan. Prancing, laughing, playing and without a doubt, mocking, I watch my son alive, frozen in time.

I cried.

But perhaps not for the reasons that seem certain.

I watched us, celebrate Christmas. With all the decorations and all the traditions, with all the excitement and all the anticipation that the season brings, I saw past that to see the frustrations.

For you see, I wanted it perfect. I wanted to preserve the day in all its magical moments. To begin a celebration that continued year to year.

Instead I watched myself regulate the occasion. “Wait” becomes my new mantra. The cinnamon buns rising in the oven, the garbage bags placed carefully to store wrappings and bows, the camera set to capture the glee, everyone to be settled as presents are handed out one at a time. “ Wait your turn.” “Wait until we are ready.” “Wait, let us open all the gifts before you open each individual box.”

I never noticed the look of frustration from the kids. I thought I was creating everlasting traditions. Ones we would cherish and observe each year. Ones the children would adopt and adapt to their own.

It made me sad. As the girls sat beside me, pressing themselves into me as if to absorb some of the pain, they asked why I was crying.

I poured out my regret, an unburdening of my failings to the two pieces of my heart left to me now.

Funny what they remembered, not what I was seeing on the screen but the chaos and the mess and all the love. All the imperfect perfections.

As our 3rd Christmas comes to pass without Ryan, the girls insisted on the comforting familiarity of everything that they loved.

I have no regrets.

I hope you all found yourself surrounded with love and light this holiday season.