On a beautiful summer day last year, I found myself standing next to my wife, looking at her. She didn’t look her normal self: she wore make-up, which she rarely did, and her hair was done in an unusual way. Also, she was lying in a coffin.
I didn’t know what funerals in Greece were like and just let things happen. I didn’t know whether there would be an opportunity to see her before the funeral, but there was and thus I was standing there, thinking of something to say.
I thanked her. For everything. And I promised her I would go and do great things. I don’t know the exact words I used but that was the gist of it. Then I went outside again.
I didn’t say sorry. Death makes a lot of things alright and the things I regretted or wished I had done differently suddenly didn’t matter any more.
But now, more than a year later, I am sorry. I am sorry that I didn’t fully appreciate her health problems. Not because they likely caused her early death, but because they made her life before that more difficult than I realised.
I am also sorry I didn’t fully appreciate her difficult childhood and how that had continued to affect her.
I think in practical terms I did alright to make her life easier and she certainly showed her appreciation for that. But it isn’t always about the practical things. I wish I had understood her a bit better back then. It would have helped her. It would have helped me.
Saying genuinely sorry is one of the hardest things to do. I certainly haven’t always been able to do so at times when I should have, especially because a good apology should come with a real intention to do better next time.
I don’t know what my next times will look like. But I know that I am able to do better. Because I am genuinely sorry.