My Grandpa Vic died this afternoon. When I received the news, I experienced a sudden rush of peacefulness. I had expected, when the news finally did come – because he has been in the throes of death and dying for many years now – I would be bombarded with an onslaught of grief, that I would weep huge tears and feel deep sorrow. But there was none of that. Instead, I had this strange sense of acceptance and quietness that filled me. I felt quiet. Still. Unemotional.
The unemotional part concerned me for a bit. I checked in with that experience because, as a healer, I know the importance of moving emotions. For me, I had to be clear that I wasn’t blocking my emotions but was, instead, having a much different emotional experience than I had suspected I would. In the end, the quietness and lack of weeping and wailing on my part was what was true for me. At that time. Maybe, in the days to come, I will express my emotion in that way, but for now, I am quiet.
When I picked my daughter up from school after her musical rehearsal, I waited until she got in the car before I shared with her the news of Grandpa Vic’s death. We covered the basics… how was your day? how was rehearsal? do you have lots of homework?
And then, I gently said, “Grandpa Vic died this afternoon.”
“Oh,” she said, rather nonchalantly, unemotionally and in a way that caused me to wonder if she had heard my statement. “Why did you call me today?”
“Um…” I stammered, taken aback by her lack of emotion,” Well… ummm… well, I wanted to tell you about Grandpa myself before you saw it anywhere on facebook or something.”
All was quiet in the car as I examined the oncoming traffic, waiting for a safe time to merge into the flow. I wondered further about whether she had heard me and her lack of display of emotion, then I wondered if that was how I was appearing to others.
“Did you hear what I said?”
“About Grandpa Vic?” I nodded. “Yes. I heard. But, it doesn’t really effect me. I never had a chance to get that close to him.”
I nodded and thought some more. That was true. She was quite young when he was moved away from us…
Then she patted my shoulder and said, “Oh! But, momma! Are you okay???! He was your grandpa.”
I looked at her, startled by the giggles that were coming from within me. I grinned and she said, “Hmmmm… in hindsight, I probably should have led with that.”
I laughed and laughed and laughed. She joined in and then asked, “Why are we laughing? Aren’t you sad?”
“Oh, honey… I think I was sad and missing him when they moved him away from Salt Lake years ago after Grandma died. Today, I just feel peace.”
It was the second time in as many hours that the word “hindsight” had been used in conversation with me. The first time had been with my mom, as I sat with her while she waded through the emotional experience of coming to terms with the passing of her father. She had said something about wishing we could always see things in hindsight.
My response then was that living with hindsight would cripple us. If we always knew how things were going to end up, then we would have no reason to live now, in the present moment. And to me, hindsight hints at there being something regrettable that I wish I could change. I’ve never heard someone say, “In hindsight, that was an awesome choice and I would do it all over again the exact same way in a heartbeat.” No. I’ve never heard that.
Usually, “hindsight” is laced with regret and “I wish I coulda done something differently.” In reality, there was nothing regrettable about my daughter’s lack of empathy this afternoon. She is a teenager. She is focused on how things effect her first. That is how the teenage brain is wired – how does this effect ME? And, for my mom, the images she was looking at through the hindsight lens, through my eyes, showed me a woman who did the very best she could do in every single situation with the information she had on hand in that moment.
For me, when I look through the filter of “hindsight,” I feel dissatisfied because there’s actually nothing I can do to change what happened then. If I’m unhappy with the results of my life “back then,” I can only be accountable for where I was then and make a different choice going forward.
And that is what I call foresight… looking forward and moving in that direction.