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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If only I had taken the time...

The other day someone made a comment, and earlier today, it suddenly resurfaced.  I had completed my assignment for my class, my personal funeral arrangements.  As I worked on my obituary, I started to think about some of my accomplishments, my hobbies and such.  Then I remembered what my professor said about the word 'avid.'  

Whenever he spotted that word in some one's obituary, he interpreted it to mean, that they had little time for anything else.  If, for example, they were avid golfers, it pretty much meant that on any decent day, they could be found teeing up at the local golf course.  Which unless, they dragged the family along, meant they were simply having 'me' time to the exclusion of their families.  So as I listed my hobbies and activities, I wondered had I ever participated in activities that would exclude my family.  Other than work and  business travel, I really couldn't think of any.  

There are many things I enjoy doing, but for they most part they require the participation of a few people.  Traveling for example, one could do it alone, but for the most part it is so much more fun with others.  I remember the vacations we would take with our children, those were some of the best.  Whether we went to the beach or an amusement park, we all had fun.  We enjoyed each others company.  

Even some of the other activities I love, like reading, I would wait till the children were in bed before picking up the book.  The main reason being that once it was quiet, I could truly delve into those chapters.  A lot of my thought process came from my youth, my parents did so much with us, activities were always meant to be fun for everyone.  So of course, when my husband and I started a family of our own, we just kept that same thought process going.  

When Rachel died, I had very little regrets.  We had done so much with Rachel, and for Rachel while she was alive.  Do I wish I could have done more, absolutely.  Which one among us can honestly say they have done everything that wanted to do with a loved one.  There are events that I regret not being able to share with my daughter.  There are trips that we can no longer take together.  No more lunch dates, coming home for Sunday dinner, and no more birthday candles to blow out.  

But if I put all this aside, there is so much more that was accomplished, that we did get to do, and all these piled up and laid side by side, far out weigh the regrets.  So when you find yourself being tugged at by regrets, stop and look at what you did with your loved one, what was accomplished.  I know when I look at the positives, I smile through my sadness, knowing that I did okay as a mother. 

Regrets do cause pain, especially if like I mentioned earlier, you were so involved in activities that excluded your family.  The death of a loved one, can cause so much turmoil.  When my professor shared his feelings about the word 'avid,' he also shared a story of someone who was actually an avid golfer.  This man lost his son, the day before his son's death, he had played golf, hit a hole-in-one, and when he got home gave the ball to his son.  The next day his son was killed in an accident, this gentleman has been unable to play golf since, he felt that his passion for golf, robbed him of spending time with his son. 

Time is so fleeting, and not one of us knows how long we have on this earth.  Yet, I am just as guilty as the next person, of putting career, volunteering, and a host of other activities and such before my family.  Up until Rachel's death, I traveled for business, I worked weekends, and late into the evenings some days.  I also had my own business, which I operated out of my home, but yet for a few months a year, I would be off limits to my family.  Sometimes I would get home from my regular job, to start working on my clients files, maybe grab a quick bite with my family, or skip dinner altogether because there was just so much to do.

Now, such things seem trivial, they really don't seem to matter.  My perspective has taken a whole new course.  Yes I still have my hobbies, I still love to travel, but I no longer work in a job that requires me to work all sort of insane hours.  A job that keeps me close to home, instead of thousands of miles away, that understands if an emergency arises and I need to leave.  These are the things that truly matter.  It does not mean that I am inflexible, not at all, if I am required to work an occasional weekend, I am fine with that, if I need to travel, its okay.  It is just that it is not a constant thing, as it was with me before. 

Something that has always haunted me is when my other daughter was being inducted into the National Honor Society in high school.  We had an event coming up for work which would fall on or about the same time.  So I asked my boss at the time, if she knew the exact date yet, and I explained my situation.  Her response to me was, if it should happen to fall on the same date, just have your husband video tape it for you, we need you here.  I was crushed, but I was left with no choice, this was my job and we needed the income, so needless to say, I missed out on a very important event in my daughter's life.  So when Rachel died it all came crashing in on me, and I realized that nothing was worth missing out on your childrens' lives for, or any family member for that matter.  

Life unfortunately doesn't always allow us the luxury of choice, especially if we are dependent on our incomes, which most of us are.  But we can choose to make a difference in the lives of our loved ones.  We can choose to spend time with them, I learned to pencil dates with my children, and would take the day off from work and maybe catch a movie, go to the beach, or any other fun activity of their choosing.  That was advice given to me by senior managers who had learned the hard way.  

So when your child asks you to play catch, or read to them, stop, look at what needs to be done, and really look at what is your priority.  If your dad or mom call, and want to see you, take the time.  Make that call you have been putting off, send that note you have been meaning to write, don't wait, don't give yourself anything that can cause regrets.  Yes there will be times when you cannot stop what you are doing, but let those be far and few between.  Trust me, take it from a reformed 'work-a-holic' there really isn't anything that can't wait, unless of course you are performing brain surgery, or giving birth.  

I have come to learn that the dishes wait to be washed, the house does not clean itself, it waits patiently for me to finish whatever I'm doing, and I really don't need to bring work home from the office, it can and does wait till tomorrow. 

So enjoy every moment, live for the moment, reduce your risk of 'regret.'  You and your health depend on it.  We are given the precious treasure of time, but with it comes limits and we are not told in advance how much we receive, so do not squander it, live it.  Use it wisely, and spend it on your family and friends as much as possible.

Blessings! and until we meet again.

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