In his book WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE, Rabbi Harold Kushner tells of paying condolence calls on the families of two women who died of natural causes after living long, productive lives. At the first home, the son of the deceased woman told the rabbi: "If only I had sent my mother to Florida and gotten her out of this cold and snow, she would be alive today. It's my fault she died." At the second home, the son told the rabbi: "If only I hadn't insisted on my mother's going to Florida, she would be alive today. That long airplane ride was more than she could take. It's my fault that she's dead."
Very few of us make it through life without a few regrets here and there. A psychologist, Dr. Thomas Gilovich, calls it, "the regret window." He describes working with patients who suddenly look distracted as if they are looking out an invisible window. What opened the window seemed to be unpredictable a casual remark or a glimpse of a face, perhaps but suddenly the patients' voices would sound tight, as if throat muscles were stiffening, and their gaze would drift away from the therapist and then fix beyond on this imaginary window.
"What were you looking at?" Gilovich asked the first person he saw doing this. "Lost life," the man replied. What the patients were seeing in that window were regrets, Gilovich determined what he calls "the lost lives, lost selves a person could have lived or been if he had done a few things differently."
Most of us have regret windows in our life of one sort or another. I always amazed by the couples who have been married for a very long time who say, "We have no regrets." Of course, God doesn't want us to focus on our regrets but the possibilities.