Regrets? Maybe a Few....  

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The word itself is ugly. Nobody likes to have regrets. It's not exactly a goal in anybodies life. My grandfather used to tell me that when I got old I would look back and the fewer regrets I had, the happier I would be. That sounds like pretty sound advice looking back.

Just because it's good advice doesn't mean it gets followed though does it? We all have those moments in our lives that we wish we could revisit and maybe change the outcome of. I arrived at that moment recently while rereading a post from Hunter at The Time Crook. He made this post and it really got me to thinking.

I'm full of silly childhood regrets, but there are a few that are a bit more on my mind as I get a little older. I'm gonna share one of those with you, but first I have to preface this a little bit. I'm a believer in the Death Penalty...Wow where did that come from right? If you kill somebody intentionally, then you deserve to die for it in my opinion. If we are going to keep people alive for 15 years after the crime then giving them the death penalty is pointless...

That said, here's my regret...

As a teenager I had a friend named Richie. We played sports together, we hung out together and we were pretty good friends through junior high school and all the way through high school as well. Now Richie was a nice kid. He was as pleasant as they come, and he was well mannered. In fact to the point that my parents were always telling me that I better be every bit as well behaved as Richie when I was out and about.

Richie came from a dysfunctional home. In the sense that his parents didn't or wouldn't show him any affection. He was the oldest of three brothers, and he was constantly expected to be responsible for anything and everything they did. They doted on both of the other boys, but Richie was never given that love and affection that he craved. He spent more and more of his time at my house. My parents accepted him in as one of our own, and even offered to let him come live with us to finish high school when it became so bad at his house. He was 18 before he graduated and his parents were going to make him move out and support himself to finish high school. Fortunately that didn't happen. I will never forget some of the times we dropped him off after a high school football game at some random hotel that his parents were at for one of their workshops. They never had time to watch him play sports, but they managed to watch the other two.

After High School we went our separate ways sort of. I joined the military and he went to a junior college down south. He was going to be a broadcast journalist. I'm quite sure that he would have made a hell of a good one too. Things don't always work out the way we plan though do they? He met a girl and all of a sudden he was in a relationship for really the first time in his life. I never met this girl, but he was happy and so I was happy for him.

Life kept moving on though and I was soon caught up in my own little slice of life. I was married and working, and on top of that I was going to be a dad. I heard that Richie had some trouble down south, but nobody really knew much about it. I was too caught up with my own little world to worry all that much about it. I figured if he needed me, he would call or write (pre-internet). Sure enough I got a letter from Richie, but by this time, I was going through some other stuff in my life. I was getting ready to get divorced, and I was wondering how I would be able to raise my child as a single parent. I didn't have time to talk to Richie, and I didn't really want to know what was going on in his life to be honest. I didn't bother to respond to his letter, and I didn't bother to notice that it was postmarked from a correctional facility.

A year went by before I found out the details of my friend. He was on death row. He was found guilty of murder. He had killed his girlfriend and her mother. I won't offer up the specifics of this horrific crime, because it haunts me still. Let's just say that it was gruesome, and he admitted to it, and was more than willing to pay for his crime.

I wasn't there for my friend when he needed me though. I wasn't there when he went through his break up, and I wasn't there to help talk him down, from whatever crazy place his mind brought him too. I was forced to accept that I had failed him as a friend. That of course doesn't mean that I had anything to do with all the madness that followed, but it's a what if moment for me.

Fast forward to now. He is still on death row. He is a mentor in the prison system, and has helped many fellow inmates achieve their GED and even some advanced learning. They have tried to appeal for all these years to get him off death row. I even offered up a deposition, explaining his childhood, and the person I knew compared to the madman that committed that crime.

Should he die? Yeah, he deserves to pay for what he did. He knows that and so do I. I even explained that to the lawyer that I spoke with. I was asked to explain my friends childhood to the court and I did. That doesn't mean that I expect leniency and I know he doesn't either.

To call it regrettable is an understatement. So many lives have been destroyed by that one terrible act. Many more lives have been turned upside down. I take something away from this though. I realized maybe a little late that I will make time when my friends are in need. I will sit and listen if they have a problem, and I'll do my best to offer up a solution and if nothing else an ear. I can't change what happened but I can change my response to it for the next time. Lessons learned are sometimes hard, and sometimes that's the only way we learn them.

So I file this away with the other black marks in my life, but this one has a flag on it. This is one to be remembered. This is my regret.....

This entry was posted at Monday, February 22, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

20 comments

whoah. I mean, that is tragic... the path he chose and the decisions he made. I think playing the "what if" game is an exercise in futility. What if you had stayed friends? What if he had never met his girlfriend? What if he still committed a villainous crime even with your friendship? These questions can be haunting to be sure. I have been in an eerily similar situation. People ultimately make their own choices. Truly sad. I am sorry for the loss of your friend... will you visit him or write to him?

February 22, 2010 at 4:27 PM

I have often thought of writing to him..Have started a dozen times. I finally decided that he is in a different life than the one we shared. If he decides sometime down the road to write, I will respond but otherwise I'm going to leave it as is...

yeah the what if games can suck if you let it get on your back that's for sure...

February 22, 2010 at 5:57 PM

You did NOT fail him as a friend. There isn't anything you could have done to have changed the outcome -- that's all him and his own personal demons. Don't play the 'what if' game... you'll never win... It's alright to wish things had happened differently, but don't blame yourself.

February 22, 2010 at 6:50 PM

It is always easier to look back and know what we should have done. You did what you had to do at the time. It is sad that such a tragedy had to happen, but I doubt that you could have made a difference or stopped it. The mold was already cast. If anyone is to blame, it should be his parents. Unfortunately he made a tragic mistake and now he has to pay the consequences. I think you have done all you can do. You should feel no regret...sadness maybe, but no regret on your part.

February 22, 2010 at 7:38 PM

There is nothing for you to regret. He chose his path. Maybe you could have helped him change his destiny, maybe not. All you can do is live your life the best you can at time you are doing it.

February 22, 2010 at 7:50 PM

That's the funny thing about regret...we feel it, whether we could fix that thing we regret or not... Agreed the what if game is pointless, although I think we all tend to play it from time to time with or without consent...

BTW..he never blamed anybody but himself...he absolutely was a grown man when he did it and knew what he did after the fact. Still wonder sometimes if I could have made that difference...I know it doesn't matter now though..

February 22, 2010 at 9:01 PM

You could have been there even more for him and you'd be the one not here on this earth today.

You cannot dwell on the what ifs in this case as you can't control anyone's life but your own.

I completely agree with you as this being one of the toughest things you've ever had to deal with in life.

I too had a friend who actually threatened to kill me and my friend, and it turned out she committed double murder within days of her threats. Days went by without a trace of her being around. That was scary. I don't know where she is now but she got two consecutive life sentences. This was part of the T/F game and the full explanation will be posted later.

Sorry that you had to go through this for one thing. The other thing is that you have to realize that he was going to ultimately do this no matter what.

If you want to blame anyone, blame those parents of his for not raising him the right way.

Children do not enter this earth asking to be treated like shit nor should they be. They learn and carry on with life from that which they are told and that which they see.

Think about it, and maybe it will make you regret a tad less.

February 23, 2010 at 5:30 AM

Lisa Marie took the word right out of my mouth: whoah. That is one story that you don't hear every day. It's a really tragic thing that's happened, but you don't know that he wouldn't have done it sooner or later, had you been there for him or not. No one knows. Like Lisa Marie (once again) it's a big What if? situation. Don't blame yourself. Please.

February 23, 2010 at 9:06 AM

That was a long time ago...I don't blame myself, but as you see I am definitely saddened by it...Every now and then I can become a bit melancholy over it all...Sometimes it's just good to type it and clear it from your mind for a while :)

Thanks for all the positive remarks...

February 23, 2010 at 3:58 PM

You can't be responsible for everyone.... You're raising responsible and courteous children and your job is to make sure that you make them the best people they can be....

Besides, what if you had done everything right, and it hadn't changed anything?

February 24, 2010 at 1:14 AM

Hope you don't mind but I am featuring this post on the Friday Five this week. Details to follow...

February 24, 2010 at 5:29 AM

Wow Bendigo. That must have been extremely difficult to write. But I do not think you should have any regrets because none of this was in your hands. I truly believe that things happen for a reason and there was a REASON that you did not respond to him. A reason that took you out of the equation.

I am glad that you didn't, because there were any number of things that could have happened.

Having said all of that, I am sorry that this happened. I am sorry he had to live the life he was given. It's unfair. But you were his friend and you did everything you could. So, no regrets, maybe just fond memories of your childhood friend.

xoxoxo

February 24, 2010 at 10:05 AM

This was a very powerful post.

Wishing you well -H.

February 24, 2010 at 2:39 PM

thanks hunter...appreciate that...

February 24, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Similar thing happened to my Dad and his bestfriend growing up. Great post, but tragic. I understand though, because I know how my Dad feels about his friend.

February 26, 2010 at 5:52 AM

Wow. That certainly brought me to tears. That's really rough. His childhood is tragic all by itself, without even adding the other mess to it.

Breaks my heart hearing of kids neglected of parental love.

"What if" is a terrible game. You can never win it. You will never be satisfied in it.

February 26, 2010 at 10:39 AM

Without knowing all the facts, I am assuming that his actions were 'spur of the moment' rather than premeditated in which case there was absolutely nothing you or anyone else could have done about it.

February 26, 2010 at 11:34 AM

I'm here because of Ian's feature on his blog. Thanks for sharing that story...his mistakes are a tragedy, but you went a different path. Sometimes we never know why, but at least you can be thankful you didn't go down his road or get in the way of it at the time.

February 26, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Found you and following you from Daily Dose of Reality.

Wow! What a horrific tale. I am so sorry. Most of us regret stupid crap like "Wish I had called that cute guy from my Sociology class" or "If only I hadn't quit Weight Watchers back in 1989, I'd be smokin' hot today."

This post vaguely reminds me of "Dear Zachary," a film we just saw via Netflix, which dealt with lost lives/obsessive love. I kept thinking that the poor guy's ex must think every day, "If only I didn't break off our engagement, he never would have met his killer and be alive today."

I am so sorry about your friend. I know you have mentally moved on for the most part - as you stated, but we are all full of some sort of regret from time to time.

Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing

February 26, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Wonderful comments from all of you Thanks so much!!

February 28, 2010 at 7:12 PM

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