Many years ago, I read a moving article by a hospice caregiver who had accompanied thousands of people during their final weeks. One phrase in particular has stayed with me. After countless hours listening to the thoughts of the dying, the caregiver summed up their greatest regret with these words: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself.”
Tara Brach – Radical Compassion
Lately, my partner is sick. No, not because of the you-know-what virus. He got a rare neurological illness called Occipital Neuralgia. I never thought that this can be happening to him. After all, we try to live healthily. We exercise regularly, sleep sufficiently (7-8 hours per day), and cut back the instant noodles. But life has full of surprises.
For days and nights, he felt that his head stabbed and throbbed. He screamed a lot, grinned, or going nuts.
For several days, I’m not bothered by the situation. After all, I’m not the one who experience the illness. But when a week passed by, things become more dreadful. I can’t help myself not feeling down. “I want to die!” he shouted. “Please, let me die.” I was shocked. I froze. But I know if I responded carelessly, the situation will just going worse. “Everything will be okay,” I assured him. While actually, I just assured myself. “The doctor said this is not life-threatening.” Deep down, my heart starts to crumble.
Is he going to be dead? Or is he going to be crazy? When facing life and death, suddenly everything else doesn’t matter. Our past quarrel, my job, my unfinished writing, the unwashed dishes, all doesn’t matter. Everything seems so unreal. The latest tv show, the goods I purchased impulsively, the food I just ate, all doesn’t matter.
What matters for me is that he recovered.
The flash of life I’ve taken for granted running through my mind. Ah, so much to be grateful, back then! If only I realized it sooner.
So many good things had happened in my life. That is, I thought, what matters. The happy moments I spent with him. The adventure I enjoyed during the holiday. The warmth of the people around me. A life that is not wasted.
A life true to myself.
I meditated, soothed myself, and tried to embrace the situation. I really don’t want to lose my partner. However, I realize I can’t just drown in sadness. I need to be tough, to embrace the uncertainty.
I feel that the universe teaches me the lesson of acceptance. After all, life is not something we can’t fully control over. In your face, Ria! If the universe can talk, maybe that’s what it said.
It’s also a big lesson for me to be grateful. However it may be, life has ups and downs. I need to appreciate the ups more.
Thankfully, after approximately two weeks, my partner recovered. That’s a big burst of relief! That is what matters to me. I am grateful that the universe still gives me one more chance.
One more chance to appreciate life. To focus on what matters. To live a life true to ourselves.
In the end, we want to know that we are living a good life, and not wasted so much of it.