My List of NON-Regrets

To quote a portion of Edith Piaf’s famous song, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien:”

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
All the things
That went wrong
For at last I have learned to be strong

I am acutely aware of living. Hugging longer, looking closer, praying harder and leaping farther. Because of that awareness, I make choices that confuse others and I frame my life in ways that are, at best, unconventional. No is just missing the “t yet” and why becomes “why not?”

Living with awareness was the greatest blessing I found in my father’s passing. At the time, it was a sharply new, jagged truth. It stung to think of and lingered in the shadow of night. Then, clarity.

A new friend recently shared the tragically beautiful story of her father succumbing to brain cancer. It was a humbling gift to hold space for her—a privilege to hear the purity of emotion. This encounter quieted my busy thoughts and reminded me of a list I have been meaning to share with my siblings . . . and will now present to all of you.

My List of NON-Regrets

  1. I will never regret an I love you, spoken or received.
  2. I will never regret a tear, as I no longer see it as weakness.
  3. I will never regret a harsh word left unspoken.
  4. I will never regret giving to help raise up others.
  5. I will never regret a thank you, acknowledged or not.
  6. I will never regret being a goofball to amuse a baby.
  7. I will never regret dancing to a song no one else hears.
  8. I will never regret risking rejection.
  9. I will never regret listening to the Holy Spirit.
  10. I will never regret watching cartoons on Saturday morning.
  11. I will never regret catching snowflakes on my tongue.
  12. I will never regret being empathetic.
  13. I will never regret traveling beyond my comfort zone.
  14. I will never regret moments with my family.
  15. I will never regret seeing my sister married.
  16. I will never regret sitting with my dad playing Spider Solitaire.
  17. I will never regret being still in meditative reflection.
  18. I will never regret smiling.
  19. I will never regret being silly Aunt Sawa.
  20. I will never regret hoping.

Having sat with those nearing end of life and worked with grief-stricken families during the healing process, I can tell you about the fears and regrets. In fact, I recently received this link to “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.” I can tell you with assurance that the essence of a good life is not defined by what we didn’t do or wish had gone differently, but by the moments we soaked up and the love we shared.

I have close friends facing tough journeys with their immediate loved ones. I pray nightly, at least, for their comfort, quality of life and support from God. For those who are called to shepherd their family member through a life-threatening or terminal illness, grief begins at the moment of diagnosis. The weight of that “moment of impact” is overwhelming enough without regrets.

The grieving heart is a truth teller and an ever-present mirror. With that in mind, I have found this song by Brad Paisley, with Dolly Parton, to be a challenge and a comfort at different milestones on my own grief journey. “When I Get Where I’m Going” invites us to explore the afterlife, to remember what is worth living for now and to see beyond the linear timeline.

So, what are your non-regrets?

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