Before she retired, my mother-in-law worked as a palliative care nurse for many years. If you met her, you would agree that if ever there was such a person fit for that job, it would be her. Her compassion and empathy overflows her being- she is a gentle soul with a huge heart and more generosity than you can imagine. And as a palliative care nurse, aside from the physical rigours of nursing, a large part of her job was listening. Listening to memories and reflections, listening to hopes and dreams for those left behind, listening to family’s last tears and patient’s last words.
She has told me many times over the years that when people are in their final stages of life, they talk a lot about what they wish they would’ve done. Regrets over things left unsaid, hopes left unfulfilled, and dreams left unchased.
What they wish they would’ve done…
That phrase has crossed my mind many times over the past number of years. And as my life grows and my responsibilities expand, the number of big decisions that I’m faced with also increases. With each one of these decisions, I turn to this phrase for guidance. I’m not a dreamer, I’m not an escapist; I’m pragmatic and realistic and practical. But this phrase helps me to see the big picture. When my emotions take hold and my sensitive nature floods in and overwhelms me, it helps me to step back, to see the forest through the trees, to think long-term.
I’m in the middle of one such decision right now. We are moving. Not far, still within Burlington, but to a different neighborhood that I’ve been eyeing for years. We only made the commitment to go for it, I mean really go for it, a couple of weeks ago, although we’ve been talking about this for a very long time. There have been pro lists and con lists and spreadsheets and soul-searching. Lots of tears, lots of conversation, lots of back and forth, lots of tears (again). But it always comes back to what they wish they would’ve done. I know that I will regret not doing this; and so it has come to be. The dream is being chased.
Right now, the burdens are heavy and the emotional toll is large. But this is the right decision for us, even though it’s hard at the moment. And terrifying. I’m trying to heed my own advice:
The chase has begun.