There is nothing that can prepare you for the news that your body has betrayed you.
You can make your own lotion, use all natural products, and go ‘no-poo’ for years on end. Make your own “all natural” cleaning products to use within your home. You can exercise, eat healthily and do all you can do prevent the inevitable.
But the one thing that is certain…
We will all die.
You, me, all of us will one day die. And like many young people, I thought I had a long time. I thought I would live to make it to a centennial celebration.
However, my blood counts are way off. My body is making blood that doesn’t quite work right. I get very sick from the slightest bug. My family will have the common cold, and I would be in my bed writhing in pain and praying for relief.
Nothing prepares you for the news that you could have cancer. That your bone marrow is cloning itself and your once active and adventurous life has transformed into a nightmare of waiting, blood draws, and medical jargon that mean nothing to the average person.
When I first learned that I was sick, the first thing I felt – to be honest – was relieved. For a long time the doctors didn’t know what was wrong. My blood counts were off but no one thought it was anything but an infection. Who lives years with an infection that doesn’t go away? (Seriously.)
The second thing I felt was scared. I am only 28. I just began knowing myself, my likes, my dislikes, my dreams, talents, passions… I was not ready to die. I have so much living to do!
Lastly, I spent a week or two asking myself, ‘why?’ I felt bad for myself. I cried. I worried.
Then this miraculous thing happened, I accepted it.
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know how long I do or don’t have. The doctors I’ve seen thus far have been unsure as to what to do, and have passed the buck to the next guy while leaving me and my family in limbo.
Why should I live in limbo waiting for answers when I can live life now?
There are so many things I have going on in my life that are good. Why waste time worrying about something that is inevitable for us all?
So with all of the introspection, I now feel I have stumbled onto why life is so freaking amazing, and each of us can live a genuine life without the threat of imminent death.
So, how do we all become happy and satisfied with life with zero regrets?
- Cling to your family.
I am lucky to have an amazing family that loves and supports me. I have a wonderful husband who is my polar opposite but makes me more grounded and responsible. I have friends who would drop anything in a moment’s notice to help me if I needed them.
Most of us have at least a handful of people that we can call on to complain to, cry to, and hold on to for support.
And if you don’t? Find someone. I have found the easiest and most brainless way to make friends is to be friendly. Be friendly, and be yourself. You will attract a tribe that accepts you in all your glorious weirdness.
- Follow your passions.
Not everyone believes in a ‘god’. I do, therefore I believe everyone was born with a uniqueness and purpose that only they could fulfill. I believe talents and passions were instilled in us. However, you don’t need to believe there is a purpose behind why you are the way you are to know what you love is what you will be good at.
If you love animals, work with animals. Get a pet.
Surround yourself with what you love.
If you’re great at writing or love to teach or aspire to do something inspiring? Do it! Don’t waste your time looking for ways to just make money. Find something that will give your soul some life!
- Love without conditions.
I have found that many people live life halfway. I’ve been guilty of this myself, especially in love. I’ve been afraid of showing my hand too early. Afraid of loving too much. Afraid of giving myself away to people not in just a romantic way, but in any capacity.
I have found that when we go into love and relationships with fear, we put conditions on things. We will do this, if you do that. We will cooperate with this, if you cooperate with that…
Very rarely do we give without expecting something in return, including gratitude.
But what happens when we start doing things for others just because we love them? We just give ourselves away because it feels GOOD to do for others?
The biggest thing I’ve found is that I have the capacity to love everyone I meet. I can do for others, hold doors open for strangers running in from the cold. I can help an older lady reach the top shelf at the store. I can smile at the young mother at the store looking like she is two seconds away from crying because her child won’t stop screaming. I can open my heart up to the world because that is what it is made for. I am made to love.
You ever wonder when people give they feel better? Or why they say, “It is better to give than it is to receive”? It is because there is a lot of truth to that platitude!
The more you give of yourself, the more you feel fulfilled.
- Stop looking for happiness.
Happiness will never be found in the perfect relationship. It won’t be found in a lot of money. It isn’t where we usually think it is.
The happiest I’ve ever been has been in moments people wonder how I am so happy. Happiness is a choice. When I realize life is truly good, and that things could be far worse than what they currently are, I can stop feeling so bad for myself.
Look at the things you do have. The people you have. The whole world can come crashing down and the thing that will keep your soul from dying out will not be your nice car. Your big house. Or your fancy gadgets…
You can be alone with not a single person in the world. Will your lifestyle be enough to keep you happy, or will you always need more to fill the void?
Happiness is being able to look in the mirror and like who is looking back at you. Happiness is having meaningful friendships and conversations. Happiness is knowing you are making an impact on the world around you, even though it may be small.
For me, happiness is a warm hug at the end of a bad day at the doctor’s office, and a hot cup of coffee with my sweet husband.
And last but not least…
- Pretend today is your last day.
It may sound so absurdly morbid to you, but seriously, do it.
Pretend that today is the last day you will wake up, see the people you will see, love the people you love, eat the foods you eat, and say the words you say.
How would you do this day? I bet you wouldn’t just stumble through it. I bet you wouldn’t use your words so recklessly. I am willing to bet you would pay more attention to the sound of the birds, the colors of the sky, and the way your best friend laughs. You may notice the lines around your mother’s eyes, the grey hair you’ve undoubtedly given her, and the memories of selfless love you have received from her.
You may want to hug those you love tighter, longer, more often. You may linger in your goodbyes. You may weep at the slightest thing because you are noticing its beauty for the first time.
Has your dog always been so perfect? Has your girlfriend always looked at you that way? Why didn’t you tell your dad you loved him more?
The one thing that is certain…
We will all die.
It could be tomorrow in a freak accident.
It could be in a year or two from a sudden illness.
It could be giving birth to our long awaited firstborn child. The one we fought for and had to go through IVF to have.
It could be right after our centennial birthday because we finally made it, and we are ready for our rest.
Regardless of when that time comes you will look back at this life and agree – life is wonderful, and it is simple. Just be genuine to you, love with all your heart, and give with absolute abandon.
You won’t regret a thing.