An elderly member of our church family passed away yesterday. A month ago, a 90+ year old member died. They are with Jesus now. Seeing loved ones who predeceased them. I’m happy for them.
For the rest of us? Family members grieving, friends reminiscing. Perhaps a few regretting things done or undone; words said or unsaid. Or simply contemplating the day we will join them in the (distant) future.
My Mom will be celebrating her 80th birthday in a few days. Is she wondering “where did the time go?” She has been remembering experiences from her childhood and youth, sharing with me when I visit (easy to do now that my parents are my neighbours 🙂 Life was hard for her, in the small village in a country that no longer exists.
One story she told, about how hard her mother worked, preparing meals, gardening, housework and yard work. How in the winter her hands were rubbed raw, cracked and bleeding, from being wet, from the cold. Yet she didn’t dare wear gloves. Why? Because she would be judged as weak and pretentious by her neighbours. How silly. How sad.
Everything looks different, through the lens of time and life experience. When we are ‘in’ the moment, our focus is on getting through, doing what needs to be done. There’s little time for reflection or navel-gazing (remember that phrase from the 1960s?)
And yet… who was it that said “an unexamined life is not worth living?”
I live alone so I’m able to indulge in this pastime. Sometimes it’s depressing. I think about the years I wasted, decades even, pining for love and marriage, a home and a family. I came close a couple of times but that dream was never fulfilled. Ironically, I’m happy about that. I savour my solitude and rarely miss having a man with whom to share my life. Sure, it would be nice to have someone to repair broken appliances, drive me to the store and help carry heavy things. But I don’t miss sharing my bed with a too-warm body that snores and hogs the covers and litters the floor with dirty socks.
Sometimes I wonder… what if? What if …I had married the man I believed was ‘the love of my life’? We would be celebrating our 35th anniversary. Would we be surrounded by children and grandchildren? Or alone on a tropical cruise? Would the sparkle of love still be in our eyes, or would we be bored and wonder ‘what am I doing with this person?’ There’s no way of knowing.
Have you played the game – if I could go back to age ___ (your choice) and change ONE thing, what would it be?
I won’t bore you with the dozen or so scenarios I have concocted over the years. But one thing is certain. I would have pursued an education that prepared me for a vocation so that I could do work that I enjoyed no matter what else I had in life. Or, even if I did the work I do (executive assistant), that I might have done it with the same company, put in my 30 or 35 years, and been able to retire at 60.
Oh well… life offers few ‘do overs’.
There is one thing I do NOT regret. And if every mistake, every poor choice or wrong decision led to it, then I’m happy with my life as is.
Jesus. My Saviour and Lord. The only One who really matters – not just now but forever.