?No Regrets? Box Helps People Let Go

October 25, 2009
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imageWhen my fiddle playing father died last spring, the universal response from friends was regret over what they hadn?t said or done.

These friends, mostly younger musicians, treated him like gold ? taking him to concerts, making over his tunes, dancing with him. Regrets were the last emotion my father would have wanted.

?Why didn?t I visit him that last day at the hospital?? ?Why didn?t I bake that pecan pie that I promised?? ?I should have learned more of his tunes.?

So I created a ?No Regrets box? for his memorial celebration. We invited people to write down anything left unsaid, anything left undone on a piece of paper, put it in the box ? and then consider it done when my sister and I burned the notes in a beach fire near the old family home.

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The response was astounding. People lined up in front of the regrets box. We got urgent calls the next day: ?I remembered another one. Is it too late to add it??

Two months later, my sister and I read the notes and burned them one by one, watching the ashes fall into burning coals.

?I regret I didn?t dance with Lee more.? ?I regret not staining your fiddle again as you had asked.? ?I wish I had been as open and friendly and grateful as you, Lee.? ?I regret not spending more time studying what a kind man you were, Lee, and learning to be one more myself.?

We cried with almost every note. Afterwards, we felt refreshed, but also determined.

It was clear people understood our father as he was: ?A sweet, gentle soul.? But the notes also reminded us to waste no time in telling people we love them. Burning regrets helps, but it?s better to cut them off at the pass.

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