When a good friend dies
I have been away a while. Life happens and the two inevitables of taxes and death catch up. Last spring it was my mother. This year it was my old friend Don – a friend and neighbour who has made life good for over fifteen years.
Every chat over the fence brightened my day, every bit of advice made my garden grow better, every joint yell for Welsh rugby made us smile and, more than that, his very goodness and big heart was a lesson to me in kindness.
But Don had one last lesson for me. A few days before he died, he held my hand and said he had lived a good life, a wonderful life and had done everything he had ever wanted. His work had been his hobby, his sister his best friend and sport his joy. Don had liked many people and in return was much loved. His words jolted me. While I was relieved at his peace, I was challenged by his words. If I was facing my maker, could I say the same?
Like many people, I live in a self-made world of must, should and have to. I race from one thing to another, to-do list in hand, never quite getting to the end of the day with a sense of satisfaction. I worry about clients, rant about politics, despair at the height of the washing pile and the size of my backside. I rarely have the humility to sit down, look around and say a deep-felt thanks for all I have. While Don would smile in delight at the peeking-through of a new crocus in his garden, I was running down the path wailing that I was late for the train.
As with many people, I turn to words when life hits me. This week I have read much of the work of Bronnie Ware – a one-time palliative care worker who gathered her thoughts for many years before writing her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Her work with the dying gives us much to think about, especially the consistent regrets she reports in the old and dying. It seems that when people look back on their lives, the most common regrets are:
- I wish I pursued my dreams and aspirations, and not the life others expected of me
- I wish I didn’t work so hard for others advancement
- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings and speak my mind
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
- I wish I had let myself be happier
How many of us can say we are not heading down that path? What dreams have you put on hold? How often have you held yourself back for lack of confidence? Do you sit and brood? Have you good friends who have not heard your voice in over six months? Do you focus on what is bad and not on what you have?
If you are saying “yes”, then do three things:
- Think about my friend Don and what you can do to reach his peace while you still have time.
- Read our series on positive thinking and follow-it to help you.
- Write down your reasons to be cheerful and put them in your pocket.
Wishing you happiness.