It took me a long time to learn that whatever decisions we make in life, are ones that we, alone, must live with. There may be lessons learned from those decisions. Whether large or small, physical, financial or emotional, there are often ramifications or consequences.
I had to make one of those decisions yesterday. In short, I had to decide whether or not to visit an old friend in the hospital or not. I should clarify it to say that she was not just in the hospital, but in a nursing home, in Hospice care. She’s dying. In fact, she was, at the time I saw her yesterday, fairly close to the end.
My decision to visit her wasn’t an easy one. Seventeen years ago, I watched my father die a slow, agonizing death over the span of three and a half months. I visited him nearly every day on my lunch hour, through the compassion of my employer at the time, and by so doing, I watched him die just a little bit every day. The result of this experience left extremely stunning visual images in my head… images that took me years to replace with the sweet memories I have of him today.
I fought with myself as to whether I wanted to do the right thing, say my final goodbyes and offer love and support to her beautiful family. If I chose to do that, the last memory I would create in my mind would be that one of her as she is today. If I chose not to go, and do the wrong thing, it would have been selfish, leaving me with vibrant, full-of-life memories of my dear friend. It would have also left me with a raging case of guilt and remorse.
I have learned to live my life differently in the last few years, whether it’s because of my own life experiences or because I realize I have much less time ahead of me than I do behind me. I make decisions, now based on the words of William Shakespeare, who wrote, “to thine own self be true.”
Hindsight is twenty-twenty. I don’t want to ever have to look back again, and feel as though I didn’t give all of myself to the people who mean the most to me. I want my “mindsight” to be remorse-free and guilt-free. With all that being said, I did visit my friend. I don’t even know if she knew I was there.
I know I was there.
I love you, Beth. I always will.