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November 21, 2022
"Mes de los Muertos"

Memories and Regrets

By Jerry Guarino

Tony had been evaluating his life, now that he was in his late sixties. Making a list of regrets as well as triumphs, he thought about how his life would have been different if he had made other choices. What if he married that girl in South Carolina, leaving college three months before graduation? What if he had gotten into Columbia's Journalism School? What if he had finished that dissertation and become a college professor? What if he stayed married to his first wife and worked with her in the business? There were several other opportunities to remarry once he moved to the west coast. Some would have been a disaster, but not Heather.

He tried to justify his choices, but he knew that all choices have consequences, good or bad. You just have to accept your life the way it turns out.

But where do regrets come from? Tony sought answers in depth therapy, through guided and eidetic imagery. After several sessions, Tony was able to recover a deep fear and the reason for it. He lay on the couch, eyes closed with barely perceptible meditation music in the background. He was in a dreamlike state of relaxation, responding to the doctor's questions.

"Tony, tell me about that early fear."

"I was two years old. It was winter. My father was driving through a snowstorm."

"Yes."

"Then the car was spinning and falling, down a hill. There were loud noises. My mother was screaming. When the car stopped, my mother got into the back seat to comfort me."

"Anything else?"

"No, that's all I remember."

The doctor woke Tony from the trance.

"A traumatic incident such as that can have profound psychological effects on a toddler. And this is the first time you remembered the car accident?"

"Yes doc. But what happens now?"

"Recovering that memory might not mean anything life altering or it could lead to other memories. We'll just have to see. But that trauma could be the reason behind your cautious personality, not willing to take risks."

"I can see that. Whenever I'm forced to make choices, I almost always take the safe path."

"Yes, that makes sense. You like to be in control, to avoid danger. As a child, you had no control over the car accident, so that's why you suppressed that memory."

***

Tony and Heather crossed the border from Washington State to Canada, to recapture the romantic weekend they had last year. It was Columbus Day weekend, Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Heather was looking through the brochures they kept on British Columbia.

"Tony, let's go back to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Remember how much fun that was?"

Tony remembered. A spectacular view between Canadian mountains. 230 feet above a river and a 460-foot-long suspension bridge. The bridge was so long that it swayed back and forth. Tony remembered having to comfort Heather the first time across, but she felt better coming back.

So, Tony and Heather went to the bridge, paid the admission fee and walked up to the crossing. Hundreds of people, all ages and sizes were crossing in each direction. Some kids liked to bounce on the bridge, to make it sway. Adults walked deliberately while looking out and down. The view was spectacular, but not for those with a fear of heights. Heather noticed several people turning back, afraid of the height.

"Are you all right dear?" Heather asked.

Tony was a little nervous. "I think so. Let's go."

"Just don't look down dear."

The motion of the bridge swaying and the river flowing below made Tony dizzy. Almost halfway across, he fell to his knees.

"Heather, I'm scared."

Other people came to his side. A kid bounced up and down. "C'mon mister, it's not scary, see?"

Tony felt his pulse. It was racing. "Feel this dear."

"Oh, Tony! That's not good. We need to go back."

"I think so, dear. Sorry."

"That's all right, honey."

Heather held Tony and helped him walk back. Once they were safe in the rest area, Heather gave Tony a water bottle. "Here dear. Drink."

Tony felt his pulse again. It was still fast, but not as much as on the bridge.

"This is my fault. I shouldn't have suggested it."

"No Heather. I didn't know it would be a problem, but I think I know why now."

"Why?"

"Remember I told you about my depth therapy?"

"Yes."

"Well, a few months ago, I recovered a memory of a car accident when I was only two. My father was driving in a winter storm and the car went down a hill and crashed."

"So, this bridge triggered a fear of heights for you?"

"Yes, I'm sure it's related."

Heather held Tony's hand. "Are you sorry that we came?"

He smiled. "No regrets dear. Never with you."






Article © Jerry Guarino. All rights reserved.
Published on 2020-12-14
Image(s) are public domain.
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