I’m afraid of dying. I suppose most of us are in some way. It’s not the being dead part that scares me. I have a strong belief in the afterlife which brings me great peace. But I’m afraid of what I’ll leave behind.
My sweet friend died this week. She was only in her 40’s. It was unexpected. She left behind a loving husband, a teenage son, and a 10 year old autistic daughter. And she left behind all of us who mourn for her. She was so full of love for everyone that she leaves behind a great legacy of light.
I almost died once. You’d think that coming so close to death and experiencing such a miracle in my life would make me less afraid. But it doesn’t. In fact, instead it makes death seem more real and an actual possibility in my life. Before my accident death always seemed distant–like it wouldn’t happen to me.
But coming so close to death has been a game-changer for me. In a very poignant way, I realized what would be left behind if I had died that day. Was I happy with my choices and my priorities? Yes and no.
I had many hours afterward to think about my life goals and about what kind of person I wanted to be. I thought about what kind of mother I wanted to give my children. I thought about what kind of wife and companion I wanted to be for my husband. I wondered why I didn’t die that day. And I wondered how I could make a difference in the world I had been allowed to continue to live in.
Since that day I have tried, almost daily, to live my life without regret. I don’t want to leave any regrets behind. It means forgetting about the dishes in order to read to my kidlets, or having ramen noodles for dinner in order to take my planned dinner to a needy friend. It means saying I’m sorry more often. It means welcoming others at our door. It means making time to be together. It means creating memories daily.
It means cherishing small moments.
I wish I could say I was perfect in doing this. But I’m not even close. Living without regret is a constant and daily struggle. Some days I succeed. Some days I don’t even come close. But accepting my imperfection is a part of living without regret. I can’t spend my days pining away for a perfect me to somehow magically appear. Instead accepting myself and all my glorious imperfections is a part of the process.
Living without regret is about doing things now and saying what needs to be said to those you love.
It’s about trying to do better.
So that’s what I do. I keep trying.
And I’ve found that the more I keep trying, the less afraid I am of dying.