Friday, May 6, 2011

If I could go back in time to do one thing over . . .

While visiting with friends recently someone asked the question, “If you could go back in time and do one thing differently, what would it be?”

My answer was that I would be more patient with my children when they were tiny instead of getting upset over little things. And that is true. I really do wish I had been as patient then as I am now, as I think it would have saved us all some grief.

But the truth is, given the chance, there is something else I would do.

I would be nice to Marta.

Marta was a little 8-year-old girl with a congenital heart defect from Nicaragua, who came to live with us while awaiting heart surgery.

And she drove me crazy.

I was 12 at the time and found her very irritating. She would follow me around during the day, would often get into my things, and at dinner time would hurry and sit in my seat. I was convinced her bothersome behavior was intentionally planned to bug me.

So I tried to avoid her, got after her for playing with my things and even gave her a dirty look under the table before family prayer when once again she stole my seat.

But after she went into the hospital, I began to feel bad for the way I treated her. I realized she was young and far from home in a country where she didn’t even speak the language. She had to be very lonely and also very scared.

I decided that when she came back to stay with us during her recovery, I would be the friend I should have been in the beginning.

But I never got the chance to apologize. I never got the chance to make her feel welcome.

Marta died on the operating table.

I think it would be hard for anyone to imagine the guilt I carried with me for many years after that. I thought often of the little lonely girl, so far away from her family, so afraid and treated so unkindly.

So if I could go back in time to do something differently than I did before, I would be nice to Marta. At least then, during her last week on earth, she would have had a friend.


Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

Thank you for this. I need to fix my patience issues now while my kiddos are still young!

I'll bet your childhood visitor has forgiven you.

Momza said...

this just broke my heart. What a hard lesson to learn. I just had a conversation with my 16 yo about a similar situation of my own when I was younger. I was not as kind as I should've been to a young woman that deserved nothing but kindness and would cherish a do-over if I could have it.
You have just given of yourself very unselfishly by sharing this experience.

Rebecca Irvine said...

I think we would all wish we had been more patient with others. I have wondered why being patient does not come more naturally. Thanks for sharing this experience--it inspires me to try harder.

LeAnn said...

This was a great post. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I too felt that I was too strict on my little ones. Now I just get to enjoy grandchildren.
I think all of us have something we would like to do over; but look at the lessons learned and also I am sure you were forgiven a long time ago.
Blessings to you!

Sue said...

This story makes me want to reach back through the years and hug that little girl that was you, learning so much about love in such a difficult way.

Judging from your blog, I would say you have put what you learned to good use. (And I have a feeling Marta would agree.)

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story with us.


Lisa @ Pulsipher Page said...

There was a time, a person that I wish I had a do-over with too. It has haunted me over the years. But like you I will NEVER let it happen again.
Love you. Thanks for sharing.

Rachel Marie said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I think we all wish we could change the way we were towards "different" people when we were younger; I know I do. Thank you so much for sharing :) Patience is something I struggle with; even now, so I will definitely be working on that from now on.

DianeSS said...

Unfortunately our best lessons we learn the hard way....from making mistakes.

Stef said...

Oh dang!! Why do we do things like that? We all have done it. I bet Marta forgives you.