Thursday, June 3, 2010

If you knew you were dying, what would you do? What would you regret?

This is a topic I've thought quite a bit about in the past, and it's on my mind again since reading Theresa's incredible post. If you knew you had only a few weeks or months to live, what would you do? What would you regret not having done?

I do not consider this to be a morbid topic. I think we should all keep in mind the things we really want to do in our lives and with our lives in order to live our lives to the fullest and profit the most we can from being alive. It's like a bucket list, but with a bit of a more restricted time frame. Instead of "before I die" being a hazy end point, the end is in sight and you have a very restricted time frame for accomplishing things. This is why it behooves us all to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.

Thankfully, I don't think I'd have too many regrets. That is due in large part to my philosophy of taking advantage of every opportunity, of going after what I want, just taking advantage of life in general. That's what I did when I lived in France. First of all, I lived in France, I traveled to many of my top places to visit, I became pretty close to fluent in French, I lived totally independently and took care of all of my shit in a foreign language, I liked my job, made great friends, and of course ate wonderful food. I guess I might regret not having been there for a longer period of time, but the two years I spent in France were pretty fantastic. No complaints here.

I know I would regret not having been in a relationship with a man who really loved me. I can't seem to get guys to really like me and want to stick around for extended periods of time. I know I would be sad about that.

I think knowing what to do with your time left would be the hard part. Obviously the most important would be to let everyone I love know how I feel about them and to spend as much time with those people as possible. I would probably want to take a trip somewhere, either France or Northern Michigan, to say goodbye to those places and the people in France. I'd have to plan for the end - what I'd want to happen at my funeral, who should be invited, where I should be buried. Who I would give my stuff to. Writing goodbye letters, writing an announcement in French that my parents could send to the non-English speakers. I'd have to make a list of all of my passwords and sites to update for when I passed.
What would I want to accomplish though? Would I go crazy trying to read all the books I could or watch movies I'd never watched? I think I'd want to spend a lot of time outside, feeling the sunshine and wind on my face, breathing in fresh air. Would I want to write a book?

And how would it feel knowing that the end is approaching, that soon I wouldn't be able to do any of these things? Would I feel calm and be able to let go? Or would I fight it tooth and nail, struggling to stay alive and keep feeling and doing things?

I know I would struggle. I know I wouldn't be able to accept my doctor telling me I have no options left. I will fight and get treatment as long as I can draw breath to say I want more treatment. But I hope too that if it ever got to the point where there really wasn't anything left, that I really did have to say goodbye, that I would be able to let go with grace and dignity.

What about you? What would you regret not doing? What would you want to do in your last few months on Earth?


Amber said...

I hate to think of this but it's true that we should always have some idea since we never know how much time we've got. Here's to hoping for lots more healthy days before our time comes when we're nice and old and gray, and ready to go.

I'd be thankful that i've been loved, and that i've been able to create life. I'd be thankful that I got to see so much of the world that others can't even imagine, and that I'd had the opportunity to fully live my life. But like you, I think i'd fight it tooth and nail -- to imagine a world where my friends and family continue to live without me scares me and breaks my heart, as selfish as that sounds. I hope that I never have to face that reality.

p.s. now that i'm preggo reading your entries gets me more emotional than before, and they've always been very emotive entries! lol

Zhu said...

Not something I like to think of but I don't think I have much regrets. I feel that I accomplish quite a lot (not bragging!) and I'm happy about that.

I want to to so much more!

getyourselfconnected said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
getyourselfconnected said...

I think my last comment was a bit on the too strong side.

au soleil levant said...

Amber - great comments. When we think about "the end" it's definitely the love we leave, the love we will be without, that is the most troublesome aspect. I agree, let's hope we all have many, many more years before we go.

Zhu - I'm glad you wouldn't have regrets. I am not at all surprised that you have so much more you want to do! You strike me as someone who always has some kind of plan. When's the next big vacation, btw?

GYSC - I like it when my posts elicit strong responses. Wish I knew what that response was though! It's an emotional topic.

Eileen said...

I think about this sometimes, though I think in a different light from you. France has encouraged me to live louder too, and that's part of why I hesitate to go back to the States. I know just a a few people who are unhappy with their jobs and their lives I want to tell them to stop and take a risk because it's obviously not worth it wasting their time like that.

I agree on the relationship front too. That part---missing out on a family, a partnership---would suck. But then, there are people who enter into those things with little conviction and sort of by accident, and are less happy for it. And there are other sadnesses that come with having a family---in Theresa's post she talks about how sad it is that she won't get to raise her son. So, I don't know. But it is something I think about these days.

getyourselfconnected said...

eliciting strong responses is your forte!

Short version:
I have plenty of regrets, plenty of things on the "to do" list that will never/can never happen if you are in real life such that it is. I had to do without food for about 3 days a week for 3 years of college and so one could call me ravenous now but for information and connections, not food (still cannot eat more than 2 times a day).

I do what I can and I draw plenty of inspiration from you dear.

All my best and I have opened my blog to guest posts if there is something you want to get out there.

au soleil levant said...

Eileen - I totally agree with you about France making me "live louder." I know so many people who say "oh, I would love to do something like that, I wish I could, blah blah blah" - just go do it! Life doesn't wait around! As far as relationships go, it's just another risk you take in the pursuit of happiness, right?

GYSC - wow, lots of honesty there. I think you and I could have a competition for whose life sucks more ;) Just kidding. I think we all "do what we can" to get through whatever we happen to be dealing with. You are rather inspirational yourself! I'd be happy to write a guest post, but my economic knowledge is significantly lower than the rest of your blog population and I have a feeling my views would draw a lot of heat!

Leesa said...

Hey Mir...

This is in fact, a great subject to discuss and it's one I've revisited a lot in my life... I used to think about traveling as much as I could if I only had a short time left... However, it would defin. depend on the state of my health, because I know that if you are very sick, the last thing you CAN do is go anywhere... I know that sounds negative, but I have often thought about if I were sick and that I wouldn't be able to do anything but lie in a bed and try to be out of pain! That takes care of that- doesn't it?
When my mom only had some few months left... she stayed at home and just relaxed... but during the time that she know her "time" was limited... she went to Costa Rica with my step mom- Traveling is something she didn't do- she didn't like taking planes or being away from her garden. But, she had SUCH a great time and it's something that my step mom thinks about ALL the time, now...
I would defin. want to write something to tell everyone goodbye... and talk to people to tell them I love them and that I'll miss them... But, if my health would be good enough... I would travel to any place(s) that I still desired to see... I would want to die in Costa Rica.. with my dad and step mom and Alex close by--- and anyone of my friends who wanted to make the trip out to be with me... I think it's important to have people by your side as you pass to the other side.. but it's not always that way. We were all with my mom- and you know, she went to the "other side" - wherever that is... I know her "soul/spirit? left her body and went somewhere else...
I would leave all my passwords with my friend, Barbara- to update my blog... and also other friends, as well to keep it going... if they wanted to ... I'd have my cousin or Frances send out an email to all my friends in California... and for my funeral- I'd want my ashes scattered in the ocean... and I'd want Alex and my dad/step mom, brothers to do that for me in Costa Rica...
Well, that's about all I can think of for now... I need to write some kind of will, I keep meaning to!
I'll think of more stuff again...
Take care,

au soleil levant said...

Thanks for the response Lees. I think it's good that you know pretty specifically what you would want done in the event of anything unfortunate happening. As much as it seems that it would be terrible to know that you were doing to die, I think it would be such a gift, both to the person doing the dying and to the loved ones left behind, to have time to prepare and say goodbye and tie up any loose ends.