Today, I am full of regret. It feels hypocritical because nearly every day I ask my students or my friends “what would you do without expectations, boundaries, or fear of failure?” By living this motto, you should never have regrets. Yet here I am.
On January 8th, this world lost a truly amazing human being after a year long battle with cancer. Larry was my cousin- albeit if you looked at our family tree you wouldn’t be able to easily figure out where he fit. He was married to an amazing woman that I grew up calling my cousin, even though we have no blood relation. She is the unofficial adoptive daughter of my mother’s sister- yet you would never know that we weren’t all blood related, as my aunt has more love than what could possibly all fit inside her tiny body. She has treated all of us- daughters, nieces, nephews, boyfriends, friends- as her own children. Larry was her son- no question about it.
The last time I saw Larry was 2 years ago at my grandfather’s funeral. The last time I saw his youngest son, Mason- my second cousin or nephew as I call him- was when he was still in diapers, a baby just barely a year old. Mason and I nearly share a birthday. He turns 4 years old in August. Between moving away from home for graduate school and then getting a job out of state, it has been easy for me to make excuses not to come home- to alienate the people who have always been family. I have been scared that maybe I have changed too much, that they won’t understand me or like me anymore, that I won’t fit in. I have had family members turn their backs on me before and I think, in my mind, it would be easier to run away from them than to let them leave me. My own fear has cost me the chance to learn from one of the courageous men on this earth.
Larry was the type of person that rarely spoke, but when he did, you knew you were going to laugh. He was kind, goofy, caring, and witty. At our last Christmas together, I remember him cracking a joke about how incredibly weird the sisters (my mother and her 3 sisters) are. What he, nor anyone else at that gathering knew, was that I was teetering on the brink of a panic attack that night- I hate crowds and dislike Christmas because I feel so much pressure to make everyone else feel happy. I have to hide my anxiety. His jokes helped keep me calm. He helped save me from embarrassment.
When I found out that Larry had cancer, it was easy for me to pretend that it wasn’t happening. He was in Florida, while I was in South Carolina. I would get updates via text or Facebook. It was like reading about someone else- not him. That made it easier to lessen the pain. It wasn’t fair that something like this could happen to someone like him. Larry was a warrior, a fighter. He was a father of 5, an adoring husband, a hard-worker, even when his body was turning against him. Throughout the whole ordeal, he never lost his faith in God- a battle that I gave up on a long, long time ago. He had courage in the face of tremendous adversity. He was a hero.
I regret not taking the time to learn more from Larry. I regret letting my own fear of rejection keep me from the very family that has always been there for me. I regret not taking the time to simply reach out and ask what I could do to make things easier. I regret not coming home to see him one last time.
Regret doesn’t really do much, other than make you feel lousy. But I think that lessons can be learned from regret. Don’t wait to reach out to those that you love. Don’t let your own selfish fear stand between you and the people who can change your life. Be courageous.
For you, Larry. I love you, I miss you, and I am so sorry I wasn’t there.
Larry Roberts, 39 of Lakeland, FL, died peacefully at home Friday January 8th, 2016, surrounded by his family and friends. Larry was a warrior and fought a year long battle with cancer.
Larry was an employee for G&G Electric Company in Lakeland and they became his second family. He was a friend to many and was always willing to do whatever he could for whoever he met. The world was a better place with him in it. He was a member of Oasis Community Church.
Larry is survived by his wife of 12 years, Tamara Roberts and their 5 children: Cooper (8), Mason (3), Alexis (17), Mitchell (15) and Tristan (13) and many other family and friends. The family will receive guests from 3 to 5 p.m. January 24th with a service at 5 p.m. at Oasis Community Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the C-5 Youth ministries at Oasis Community Church.
A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. Ecclesiastes 7:1