People who say they have “no regrets” mystify me. Regrets, oh I’ve got a few. Like last night when I couldn’t get back to sleep for thinking about the times I yelled at my children when they were little. This didn’t happen much, but every time it did, my self-hatred was huge. It still is. As a mother I wanted always and only to be a comfort to my kids. But when you’re yelling, you’re not a comfort, are you?
In the dark hours before dawn, in hopes of forgiving myself by understanding myself, I tried to see myself as the little girl I used to be, the child who, like all children, had little control over her own life. No dice.
This morning I wrote notes to my children, telling them how sorry I was for having yelled. Because what else can I do? You can’t go back in time and undo things. Then my favorite line from this beautiful poem —give back your heart to itself–drifted into my head.
Love After Love, by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
For more information about Derek Walcott, please click here.