What is really most important in life? We do not choose when to be born; we do not choose when to die; we however get to choose what to do in between. Yet every day is a struggle to do the right thing, to grow to be a respectable person, to fall in love with the perfect person, to have fun, to be wealthy, to have a perfect family, to be able to provide for them a perfect life, a perfect home…perfect perfect perfection is all we seek. No one wishes to die, though someday we all encounter death. Like my mother says, “Kifo ni Lazima, kuishi ni bahati”… To die we must, living is by luck.

I read an article online from an excerpt in the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing by Bronnie Ware that went something like this;

“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them. When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five: 

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honor even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle. 

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.  We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win. 

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships. 

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. ”

From the moment we become conscious of our self, to the day we die, we constantly shape life with the decisions we make. We decide whether we will live with regret or we will smile when we look back and say, I lived well, given a chance I would do it all over again. It is okay to pursue our dreams and desires in life, desire to be rich and wealthy ranks the top most, desire to provide our children with the best life should also be ranking highly. Is the price we pay while pursuing this dreams really worth it? Strained relationships both at home and at work, absentee parenting? Sometimes my mother calls me and asks why I haven’t called her. I never really have an answer, life just got busy you know. But I usually tell her it’s the unnecessary noise in this world that blurs our vision from what is really important. The author of The Purpose f Purpose driven life says that at our death bed, we won’t ask for all our achievements, we shall ask for those whom we really care about. I concur with the author of this article, in the end it is the relationships that count. It is what is really important in life. If you ever doubt, try analyzing what/who was there for you when you were at your lowest and you will realize it is not the things, it was the people who mean the world to you or rather the people whom you mean the world to. How much time and resources do we invest in them?

What do I want really? I want to live and never have the above regrets. I want to choose to live this way, to live true to myself, to be the person that I am without the fear of being judged, I don’t want to live a lie just because I want to please a clout of people, or I want to fit in a crowd, I want to be honestly me. I don’t want to work so hard I forget to live. I want to be there for my husband, and my children when they come. I want to watch them grow, watch the first step they made cherish their teenage, develop their talents, not to miss any defining moment in their lives. I want to cherish my family and friends, invest time in being with them, talking to them, knowing how they are doing. I don’t want to be too busy to care, because when I stop caring I start dying inside, slow death. I want to have courage to express myself, scream from the rooftops if I have to, just to make sure I am myself. I don’t want the fear of being judged to hold me back from being me. I want to make sure that if there is ever a limit to myself, then it be because, if I d what I will do, I will offend my God, and hurt those I love, but not because I desire to conform.  I want to cry when I feel like and laugh when I can and live life to the full without holding back. I want to be honest with my words, no sugar coating to clear some air, but more so, I want to love, honestly, truly and deeply. I want to believe in true love, but more so I want to live it. Not being loved but loving, well if I am loved in return then its double happiness. I don’t want to be afraid to love or live in fear of never being loved for the person who is truly me. I want to love true,ad in all this I will be honestly happy.

I conclude with the closing remark from the article; “Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, and choose honestly. Choose happiness. ” This is because, as Abraham Lincoln put it, “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  It is only when we live that we can choose; The dead tell no tales…

I never want to regret. I choose not to And you? What do you want?