Fairly recently, I posted at forum I visit, when I want to talk about God, and how well I am (or am not) following Him.
Basically, I expressed my sorrow over all the things I thought I would do with my life but have not done. Not the fun, life experience things (although I certainly have a list of those), but the really important things I had hoped to do, that would make the world better.
When I was a child, I had a dream, where I took an old Goodwill drop off site (that actually existed in the middle of a store parking lot), and built a beautiful, magnificent home out of it. I can't describe it, except to say, it had a lot of glass, and the sun shown it's light into it all day. I can still, vaguely picture it. In my dream, this new home became a place where I invited homeless people to live. Back then, I don't think there were as many homeless people around as there seems to be today, but somehow, I was aware of them.
As I grew up, and at times "away", as many young adults do, I still always retained a yearning to give to others. I always wanted to give children love, have lots of my own, as well as foster, and adopt. I always wanted to give my change to anyone outside a store, buy food for the hungry homeless people out on the streets.
In my twenties, I lived in a town home style complex, with two rows of apartments. I always though what a great place it could be as a homeless "starter" shelter. One apartment could be an office, one could be a free day care center, and the rest could be filled with men, women, and families, trying to get back on their feet. They could live rent free, while taking job training, or college courses. They could have an address to write down on a job application, so they could find work.
Here and there, throughout my life, I did manage to give a little. I sponsored a young girl in Israel who needed surgery, I sent monthly care packages to a very poor family in "the farmlands of America". I sponsored a starving child in South America. I bought the "feed the children" cards at the grocery stores, and for awhile, even became a volunteer card stocker. I volunteered to be a "Big Sister" at a time when Big Sisters weren't in great need.
But, I was never able to give "enough", never felt I did my share to really help those in need.
And so, I posted all this, through teary eyes. And, one of my loving friends responded in a way that quite surprised me.
He said, I was facing end of life issues, and processing my life, as anyone does, while facing death.
I hadn't though of that. Of course, I know everyone has regrets, and that they process those regrets when they are facing their death. But, in my limited experience, mostly through movies and other media, this happens very shortly before death.
A very elderly person, in a nursing home, perhaps. Or a sick person on their "death bed". Or even, in the "life that flashes before the eyes" of a person who has just been in a severe accident, just before he or she dies.
I have always recognized that day would come, when I would face my regrets, but I did innocently, and naively think it would be just before death, and I have lived with the illusion that I might, someday, still be able to act on some of those regrets in the future....someday.
What I never could have guessed, was that I would face these regrets at the "tender age" of 45, as my cancer makes me face a death that could be fairly far off, if all goes well with my treatment.
I haven't seen 'The Bucket List', but assume all the items on that list, are experiences the characters would regret not having done, before they do, actually die. And, I assume they accomplished, at least, most of them.
I, too, have a list. Maybe not quite a bucket list, but things I have always wanted to do but not been able to. Some of those things, I have already written about above. But, there are other things I have always wanted to do, that, until cancer, I could convince myself might still happen...someday.
I have several children's books I would like to publish. I would like to visit Hawaii, Japan, Italy - the lands of my heritage. I would like to travel around my own country, these beautiful United States - show my children the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful, Mount Rushmore...collect lightning bugs in a jar.
There are things I started, but never finished - a medical career, that I set aside, when I recurred at stage IV, joining and dropping out of the church choir (twice - one per cancer diagnosis), volunteering with my church's children's program, again after recurrence.
And, I have new goals, too. Metastatic breast cancer advocacy, writing and publishing books about my cancer experience, my very crooked walk with God, and even how a person's race affects their lives, as they grow up in their area of the U.S.
There are those usual growing older experiences with friends and family- weddings, grandchildren, special anniversaries, etc.
Some of these, I may still accomplish - but most will remain regrets. And, the difference between my real life and the movie, 'The Bucket List', is that I don't have all the money in the world to run off and fulfill all the adventures on my list. And, the difference between my life, and someone who may have that flash and then recover, is that I can not physically do some of the things on my list. And, the difference between my life and those who face their regrets on their actual death beds, is that I may live with the sorrow of my regrets for a very long time.
Life is precious, of course, and I fight for mine, every day. I hope to live for a long, long time. And, I know there will be great joys in the life I live. But, far too soon, I am also aware of, and living with my regrets.