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Archive for February, 2013

I’ve been introduced to Bronnie Ware and her book: “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” – which in turn has introduced me once again to my life.

Bronnie Ware is a palliative nurse in Australia who has spent several years caring for patients who are in the last 12 weeks of their lives.  She states:  “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

Here are the top five regrets she has witnessed:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

Anyone who reads these five statements and doesn’t take a moment to review their own lives is missing the point of what life should be.

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”  It’s like hearing my own voice in my head when I read this.  I understand this more and more the older I get. I’m 60 and the “I should haves” are taking more and more precedence in my life.  When I was in my 20’s I most certainly did not have that sort of courage, I’m not sure I had any sort of courage at all.

Most of my generation – born in the early 1950’s – knew what was expected of us. I lived in a small, rural town and was raised by a Mother who was quite strong – but also quite a traditionalist. I knew from a very young age what was expected of me, and it most certainly was not to be a Lesbian. I was to be a wife and a Mother and not question – anything.

So, instead of questioning or finding any sort of courage – I lied and cheated and hurt many people on my path to living the life that was expected of me. Oh yes indeed – “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

I think of my parents and I wonder what they may have regretted at the end of their lives. Mother never really discussed her feelings and I would never even be able to make an educated guess about her regrets, or even if she had any.  My Father was a complicated man – and a stubborn man – when given the chance to make amends and get some things in order before he passed – he refused and died with things unsaid and unsettled. Did he regret that – I have no way of knowing – but I most surely wish he would have made the effort.

This list of regrets by those who have gone before us is a gift for those who want it to be so.   While you have the time – do what you need to do to be happy in your life – Your life. Not your Mother’s or your Fathers or your husbands or your wife’s or your partners or your friends. – Your life.

Perhaps making peace with ourselves will bring peace to our lives.  I’m not sure one can ever live a life without any regrets – but I like to believe we can live a life which brings us pretty close.

At 60, I am well aware that there is more of my life that lies behind me than lies before me.  When I went home for my mother’s funeral – I understood it was time to let go of some anger I’ve been harboring for many, many years. Anger at family, at a town, at memories… I apologized for things I needed to apologize for, I listened when others spoke to me, and when I got on the plane to leave – I left it all there.  I didn’t want to carry it with me for one more moment in my life. I was no longer concerned about keeping peace or keeping quiet or being angry. 60 years was long enough…

Go back and read the five regrets. How many of them apply to your life? And how many of them can you change right now?  What are you waiting for?

Life is not about the destination – it’s about the journey…

 

 

 

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I found out yesterday that a friend of mine had died. He was a friend from long ago from a life that was lived with lies and deceit – but also with love and laughter.

My friend was a part of the love and laughter.

I’ve been thinking since I heard of his passing about how we all move from one life to another and people get pushed to the side as new people come into our lives.

I had a husband and a family and a job and friends, dogs, cats, homes – and they are gone now. That part of my life has been pushed away – only to be remembered at funerals and when looking through the pages of old photo albums.

For years I tried to think of how I could get away from that life. I dreamed of a life where I lived openly as a lesbian and wasn’t afraid of hurting anyone or disappointing anyone or being an embarrassment to my family. It was only a dream – and while I was dreaming I was also living the life that was expected of me.

My friend was a part of the expected life as we worked together on a daily basis and life in our small town also required you to share in outside activities. Fire companies, fishing, hunting, drinking…  We all laughed together, cried together, and when bad times came – we stood by each other.

Small towns can be brutal when the bad times come, and when it’s affairs or divorce, it’s mostly required that you pick a side and make your stand. And when the affair happens among a group of friends – well – that is the end of the group, the end of the friendships, and the end of that chapter. When we found out that his wife was having an affair with his best friend – I stood by my friend. I listened when he needed to talk; pushed when he needed a shove, and hugged when he needed a friend.

He moved away from the small town, but we still worked together and when I left to go and see the world with Carl – my friend was my biggest supporter. And when everything with Carl ended and the whole gay thing hit the gossip wires of the town – he was still standing by me, always hugging me every time I got home, always with a big smile happy to see me; always my defender.

We lost touch with one another – but we never lost our affection for one another. I would smile when I thought of him and the fun we had working together and the Friday nights when a group of us gathered and ate too many steamed shrimp and French fries and drank too much beer and whiskey. I always made sure I saw him when I went home – always, as the trip would not have been complete without his smile.

I will miss my friend and his unwavering love for me. He was a good man and a good friend. Rest in peace, my sweet friend, Rest in Peace.

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