I am still deeply affected by August’s birth, though I have done a lot of healing. The trauma of it still hasn’t left me, and I think it will always be a part of me in some way. On top of the trauma, another difficult part of dealing with August’s birth has been dealing with the guilt. I blamed myself for what happened. I made the choices, and I felt that it was my fault.
After August’s birth, I worked with a mentor who helped me to process through things and start to come to terms with them. I told her about the guilt I felt, and she asked me what I felt I needed to forgive myself for. I told her I needed to forgive myself for not knowing there would be complications and for making a choice that put August’s life in danger. She said, “So you need to forgive yourself for being human and not being able to predict the future? You need to forgive yourself for making the decision that felt right to you at the time?” That has stuck with me over the years. Even though I regret some of my decisions about August’s birth, I was doing my best with the knowledge I had at the time. I have to be okay with being human and having human limitations.
Fast forward 6 years to the last conversation I had with Greg. I asked him to go on a walk with me because I needed to talk to him about some important things. In the last few weeks of his life, we took many walks around and around the block, talking. They were always supposed to be short conversations, but we would sometimes walk around the block 10 or more times. This was one of those long conversations. This conversation was very heated. It was possibly the biggest fight we ever had in all the 19 years of knowing each other. We were both very angry, and I felt like we were talking in circles, so I turned around and headed back home. He followed me. We finished the conversation in the front yard. I could see the anger in his eyes, and I will always remember him like that because that’s the last time I saw him alive. Right before I stomped off and slammed the door in his face.
That goodbye was about as unloving as any I could have given him. It’s not the goodbye I would have given him if I had known that it was goodbye. I know he would have acted differently if he knew it was our last conversation as well. I was recently asked if I feel guilty about that last conversation. The answer is no. I feel deep sadness and regret about it, but I don’t feel guilty about it. Because I have worked on accepting my humanness, I can see that we were being real people. Greg and I were having a real conversation just like any other people. People get into fights. Most people get a chance to smooth things over. It’s sad that we don’t get that chance. We were being real humans who couldn’t see the future.
Saying that I don’t feel guilty about our final conversation is a big win for me. I have always held myself to a high standard and been afraid of making a mistake. It is terrifying to think of making a mistake that I will regret, and I have had to live with some big ones. But the fact is that I am human. I am doing my best, and that is really all I can do. I forgive myself for being human.