I remember the first time I felt regret.
That’s not true.
I remember the moment, the split second that was just before that feeling tore through me.
I can still feel the string that was tied to green balloon as it slipped past my fingertips.
It slid, barely touching me as it flew upwards,
the balloon, filled with helium, drawing it up and away from my grasp.
I had played the game for only a few minutes that morning.
It was silent outside in the early morning chill where I stood in my driveway.
Everyone else in the house was asleep, I had taken my balloon and wandered out.
Even at seven years old, sleep was always done for me far before anyone else in my house was stirring.
I had spent the night before playing release and catch in my bedroom and I was good at it.
I had held tightly to the string, letting the weight of the balloon bob against it as I tugged it lightly.
Loosening my grasp, I would let it purposely slip away.
For a second, maybe two.
Until I would grasp and hold tight, catching the string before it was too late.
Stopping it from leaving me.
I was good at it.
It never got away from me.
I knew I could always catch it.
I knew this.
I stood in the driveway and shivered in the cold air.
I looked up at the balloon tethered to the string and at the endless grey sky beyond it.
I let my grasp loosen and the string started to slide through my fingers.
I tightened my grip.
Just a split second too late.
The string wasn’t in my hand anymore.
I saw it as it flew past my eyes and was gone against the heavy, overcast sky.
All I could see was the bright green balloon as it lifted farther and farther away from me.
Out of my grasp.
It wasn’t merely the loss of it that hurt.
It was that what I had done had caused it to be gone.
That it was gone because of me and I couldn’t take that action back.
There was no way to make that reality different.
That hurt more.