Everything in my immediate vicinity was perfectly normal: sunshine, dogs barking, children squealing, Pearl digging to China in the sandbox. But my voice felt foreign and clumsy as I spoke because a few hundred miles away, at the other end of the phone line, everything was not normal.
I followed the effortlessly positive lead of my aunt Rhonda, chatting about kale smoothies, the girls, and our upcoming trip to France. She said softly, “I wish we had traveled more.” Over the course of many months and phone calls, this single statement shocked me the most. She moved on quickly, the moment gone before I could catch it. It was a brief glimpse into an otherwise persistent determination to beat liver cancer.
Common Life Regrets:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others had expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I would have had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish I would have let myself be happier.
It’s easy to make mistakes each day and, over time, watch them snowball into immense regret. Cancer took my aunt from this world ahead of schedule, but I can say with confidence that this list held no place in her brilliant life.
She was so positively genuine she damn near sparkled. Although she always worked, her identity was never tied to a job. The 9-5 hustle enriched her life, it never defined it. She had this graceful way of expressing herself so that you knew where she stood without harshness or offense. A purposeful giver of love and kindness, she was always present for the ones she loved, celebrating life’s happy moments at every opportunity. Her beautiful heart was a gift to all who knew her, friends, family, and the random strangers who had the luck to encounter her. If we could all tackle this list the way my aunt did then #5 seems to take care of itself. Happiness comes easily and shines with an undeniable radiance when you prioritize the way she did.
In the end, she had no common regrets, only a desire to live and experience more. I wish I’d had more time to ask more questions of this amazingly uncommon woman.