When Kramer was sick we were driving home from radiation treatment in Lacrosse. Out of the blue, Kramer said, “You know, people always say things about regrets and whether they have any. I’ve been thinking about that and the only regret I have is that I started smoking.”
We talked about it for a long time…I asked if he regretted this or that? I asked if he regretted how we handled a certain situation. I dug a little deeper and said, “Well maybe you don’t “regret” it, but would you have handled it differently?”
He thought and said that in the situation, he thought he handled it the best he could at the time so no..he didn’t regret it or wish he would have done things differently.
That conversation stuck with me and has over the last year. When Kramer was dying, I wanted to make sure I had no regrets. I told him the things I wanted to say. I did the things for him that I wanted to do. I had no regrets with how our earthly relationship ended. I’m so thankful that. So many people don’t get that chance. For me, even though I had to watch him die, having no regrets and him knowing I was there for him, was totally worth all the pain of it.
The other day I heard someone ask another person if they had regrets. That lead me back to the conversation Kramer and I had. I was so thankful that I had the warning that Kramer was going to pass away. I was so thankful for those 4 1/2 days we had from the time we were told he was going to die, to the time he actually did.
That got me thinking about my current life. Was I living a life of no regrets? I can’t say I regretted anything but I did think I needed to change the way I was living…I won’t always get those 4 1/2 days with every person I know. Every time I see someone, it might be the last time I see them. They might die in a car accident…they may commit suicide…they may have a medical incident. Any number of things can happen to someone that prevents me from seeing them again. Their life is not guaranteed. My life is not guaranteed. Every time I see someone, that might be the last time I see them. It might be the last time they see me.
So…I decided that I was going to changing the way I live. I’m living a life with no regrets. Here are some of the things I’m doing:
I compliment people more. I say what I think more freely but not the icky stuff…just the loving things. I say things such as I’ve always loved that about you…and it’s referring to something like their laugh or their kindness. I tell people I appreciate their friendship. I thank people for being in my support system. I put words to many of my actions…like saying “If I can, I’ll always help”. I thank people for calling. I thank people for stopping by and checking on me. I TELL people all the things I can to let them know that they have meaning in my life. I DO all the things to let people know they have meaning in my life.
I’m better at letting my own kids see that I love them for them…completely unconditional. I grew up in a pretty dry family when it came to loving words. My parents loved me and I knew it, but there was no physical showing of love and no emotional showing of love. I’m not mad or angry about that. It just is. With Covid, I’m trying hard to make the emotional side of love bigger. I tell the kids I appreciate them and that I’m proud of them more than I ever have. I tell the kids they are good at their job and that I’m impressed by them.
I think the saying above is so true…but not the way most people would take it to mean. Most people would read that and think, “the need to try for that promotion” or “that means I need to move to the city” or any number of things. They don’t think about the emotional side of things.
They don’t see it as the part I see. Are we opening ourselves up to love and be loved? Are we taking the chance to tell people how much they mean to us?
I think we all guard our emotions a little too much. We don’t want to get hurt. We don’t want to feel awkward.
Since Kramer’s passing, I’ve become a much more open person. I say kind things often…Admittedly it was a little awkward for me at first. Now it’s much easier. I feel like a much more sincere person. I don’t lay in bed at night and think, “I should have told Kalissa I’m proud of her for gathering supplies and taking them to Cedar Rapids.” I already told her…because I am proud of her and I want her to know it. If she died in a car accident on the way home, I want her to know that I am proud of her.
So today’s blog post is just a little reminder….the people you love and the people you are close to might not always be here. You will not always be here. You might not get those 4 1/2 days that I had with Kramer.
Say the things you need to say now….live a life with no regret with the people in your life. Open yourself up to love and be loved. It’s a genuine way to live…and it’s a happier way to live.