What was your career like? Did you ever figure out what you wanted to do, and if so, did you do it? How important did the money end up being, did you take dreams over paychecks and struggle to follow your passion? Did you create something you loved? Did you work with integrity and honesty and drive? Were you a good mentor, and did you remember to give back to the people who looked up to you? Did anyone look up to you?
Did you take risks? Did you ever run that marathon? Did you eat the dessert whenever you wanted to? Did you see the movies you wanted to see? Which books were your favorites? What was your favorite ritual, your alone time, your just-for-myself thing? Did you remember to put yourself first sometimes, not for the sake of being selfish, but for the sake of your own sanity?
Are there people who take care of you now? Do you have kids? Did you ever decide whether or not you wanted to have kids, and if so, how did you know? Was it a light bulb moment or was it gradual? Did you see some little girl on the subway one afternoon and realize the pang in your heart was real and telling you that you wanted kids after all? Did you know you were ready or were you scared the whole way? And what were their names? What are they like? Are you proud of them? You must be proud of them, I imagine, the way most parents are proud of their kids, should be proud of their kids. Do they look like you? Do they love you? Were you a good mother? Do they think you were a good mother?
And if you didn’t have kids, how’d you decide? How’d you know they weren’t for you? Was there backlash when you made that choice? Was it even your choice?
Were you a wreck when your cat died? Do you remember what it was like the day you looked at her and realized you’d outgrow her? Do you remember how little she was when you got her, when she was five weeks old and mewed like crazy and snuggled up in your shoulder when you slept? How old was she? You had her until the end, didn’t you? Do you remember that day when you looked at each other very seriously and realized that you were her human more than she was your cat? How do you survive outliving such an important part of you?
Did you travel the world? Did you explore your city as often as you could? Did you ever move back home? Or was homesickness just a comfortable constant? Was it just a small memento, and a reminder of your roots?
How did you meet the love of your life? Did you ever have one? Or were there many, and if there were, did one stand out? How did they act? What were they like? What did they do, and how did they take their coffee, and did they prefer pancakes or bacon and eggs? What color were their eyes and did you feel safe in their arms and how and when did you know that you loved them? Who said it first?
And if it ended, how did it end? Was it violent and bitter, or two friends saying one last good bye? I hope it was the latter.
Do you regret anything? What do you regret? And if you do, do your regrets outweigh your good memories?
I hope they don’t. I hope the good far outweighs the bad.
And most of all, were you happy? Maybe not all the time, because that’s the impossible goal, but overall, were you happy? Are you happy now? Did the things you did and the places you saw and the people you loved… did all those things bring you joy and give you meaning and fuel your drive and determination to make the world a better place?
But I guess that last answer lies in me. Current me. Present day. Right here and now.
Because the things you do now, and the people you love, and the dreams you chase determine whether or not you feel fulfilled in this moment. The risks you take build up to larger rewards, and the things you choose not to do in the here and now determine your biggest regrets.
So chase after what you love now. And take your risks and leap off those cliffs and book those tickets to that new city and read as much as you can and love as hard as it is humanly possible.
And make the answers you’ll give when you’re older the best they can possibly be.