je ne regrette rien
Last night, I dreamt that I wore a new baby in a sling, snug against me, while I was shepherding my older son around some incredibly dangerous area. (My dreams are very often replays of movies I have seen and last night we watched Our Idiot Brother, which was really wonderful, and featured a baby being worn in a very gorgeous black and white sling.)
Accordingly, I woke up with that one, huge, bittersweet regret. Grief, really, but isn't it also a regret, to wonder what that little one's life would have been like?
I have mostly lived life by the guidelines of the famous Edith Piaf song, whose last line, translated, is "No, I regret nothing, because my life, my joys, today, they begin with you."
My life, as it is right now (which is the only moment I have) is a sum of all the choices, all the moments leading up to it. My life begins, today, with the joy of right now.
Ah, but the rub is not knowing where the road not taken would have led.
To another moment. Another joy. Not today's.
Do you remember the movie, Sliding Doors? One of Gweneth Paltrow's best films. It's an interesting take on the post-modernist 'many worlds' dilemma. The heroine, after getting fired, either catches a subway or misses it (the sliding doors close). The two tracks of possibility are shown, until the very end, when in one track, she dies.
Of course, life isn't that obvious.
And life isn't a movie. So we can speculate about the path not taken, but we can't really know.
But this brings me to the Arthur Miller quote. Because I don't regret regretting my miscarriage. It is one of the "right regrets" to have. It was completely outside of my power, to keep that pregnancy. But I don't regret having been pregnant. And I don't regret the love I have (and will always have) for that little one.
I just regret not knowing what could have been.
And that is the right regret for me to have.
(The "wrong regret" would be to wish it had never happened. That's just adding insult to injury. It happened, move on.)
I've moved on. I love my life. I am over the near-grief because enough time has passed. (But every month, when I bleed again, the grief returns a little, a reminder. Hello, blood.)
We made the (wise, wonderful, right for us) decision to stop trying for another child. And I don't regret that decision, either, although I do sometimes wonder at the "what if" of those first few months after, when we were open to getting pregnant again. (It was a long, protracted trying to conceive period of time that we were not going to have happen again, having gone through that with Remy.)
The right regrets.
And still, I can sing with Edith: "Non, je ne regrette rien, car ma vie, car mes joies, aujourd'hui, ça commence avec toi."
And by "you" I really mean, "me." My joys begin today, with me.
In one of those awesome twists, one of my clearest memories of our honeymoon in Bora Bora is of going to a hole in the wall French restaurant where the expats were all doing kareoke to the owner's guitar. And of course, someone broke out the Edith Piaf. Of course. So, "Non, Je ne regrette rien" reminds me of my (oh my goodness, so glorious) honeymoon almost thirteen years ago.