Well, we all make mistakes. Some are more preventable than others.
Having both parents die from the same preventable form of cancer would have to be high on my list of things to fix, given a time machine. (The magic word is "colonoscopy", folks.) My dad would have been 72 this month, my mom 73 last month if they'd lived. Other than the cancer that killed them, they were both pretty healthy, so I'd like to think they'd still be around. And -- even though Gretchen occasionally refers to my father as a "food Nazi" (which is another one of those long stories) -- I miss them both a lot.
Then there are relationships. I certainly spent a lot of my life chasing the wrong women, although that has to be classified as a "learning experience". I don't know that I'd necessarily want to unwind most of that. You've got to get those learning experiences somehow.
Gretchen and I are an interesting case. If we'd had the sense that God gave a turnip, we probably would have gotten married around 1986-7 or thereabouts. But we didn't. And Carol and I got engaged and married instead, which caused Carol far more pain than I would have ever wanted. (It caused me a fair amount of pain too, but I guess I figure I deserved it.) The happy thing was that Carol and I managed to get out of the relationship as friends and that Carol is recently and happily married to a Real Nice Guy (TM).
Would I avoid causing Carol that much pain given the temporal option to do so? Like a shot.
And Gretchen and I have been married for just over nine years now. Which is a good thing.
For a long time, the biggest thing on my "What If" list was my best friend from high school who committed suicide the day before I got back from my first year of college. I spent a long time beating myself up over that particular what if. What if I'd come home a day earlier? I could have. I'd stayed down at college after finals were over for an extra day or two because college is a fun place to be when you don't actually have classes to deal with. If I'd come home when I "should have", I might have been on the phone to him and talking instead of having him hang himself. Or so I thought.
About a year or so ago, my friend Dorotha (who you'll hear on the album), took part in a sponsored anti-suicide walk. This apparently caused my brain to start percolating again, because I think I finally figured out what happened all those years ago.
I think my best friend hanged himself because his parents reacted badly when he told them he was gay. I don't *know* that this was what happened, but everything that happened around then fits. I'd like to think that I might still have been able to help if I'd been standing in the right spot at the right time, but I'll never know. I haven't tried checking this out, because it would only dig up old hurts for his parents, even if I was able to find them.
But, you know, sometimes *believing* that you understand is good enough. And it beats the heck out of *knowing* that you don't understand.
It doesn't make it less of a terrible waste, though.