"People cannot live forever, but memories can. Never pass up an opportunity to create awesome memories with your special ones." — Tanya Masse (Stripping Away the Insanity of Life & Parenthood! (Volume 1))
"My happiest memories, have no place in the past; they are those I have yet to create." — Ellen Hopkins (Impulse (Impulse, #1))
For many years Bronnie Ware, a palliative care provider and a published author, tended to the needs of those who were dying. During her time with them, she started to record the most common regrets the dying had in life, and eventually annotated her findings in a book titled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Among the top five was “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
Why is it the case that it takes a family member’s or friend’s death to bring kinships and friends together? Or why does it have to take a life threatening accident or illness to get family or friends to visit a loved one?
One of the greatest opportunities during one’s life is the pleasure found in tending to an old and established friendship. It is within this relational endeavor that one is afforded the intimate engagement that begets an incredible joy of satisfaction of knowing, and of being known by, another human being. And the core essence that forms this kindred friendship is grounded on the continuous cultivation of both interests and considerations that each have for one another – “if you wish to be loved, love” (Seneca). Allow me to add this should not be confused with the most overused platitude in the term of “friend,” mostly built upon and characterized by a fair-weather friendship, intended on the pragmatic sake of usefulness and utility to one’s own benefit. Instead, it is a friendship that is distinctly marked by an unceasing pursuit of the other’s best interests, while at the same time committed and engaged to make new memories between friends. These new memories typify the happiest moments in life.
Despite the fact that cancer may take my life one day, it has given me an amazing wonderful gift: a new appreciation of the importance to create new memories with family, friends and loved ones.
Indeed, each of our lives is but a brief sojourn in a world that challenges us daily. But a friend’s outstretched hand is a constant and steady assurance that we’re not alone on this rugged path of life.
To come back to the question of why is it the case that it takes a family member’s or friend’s death to bring kinships and friends together...fortunately, we have the dying to give us the answer: most of us are so caught up in our own lives that we had “had let golden friendships slip by over the years.” We know the satisfaction of being the recipient of a friend's "just wanted to say hello" phone call or a handwritten note that conveys, "I'm thinking of you." However, regrettably we find ourselves carried away by the busyness of life and work to extend in kind.
Do not allow a chronic illness or death of a family member or friend to be the latest memory since your last contact with them many years ago. Instead, let the certainty of death be a constant reminder to continuously endeavor to create memories of joy, laughter, love, and adventure between kindred pals.