As you know, the past month has been a difficult time for Anne and her family. Today I found her back at her desk reviewing her to-do list. She looked up and sighed.
"Are you feeling regrets? Thinking of the things you wish you had said or done before Hugh died?" I asked tentatively.
Anne smiled as she answered, "No, Edna, I have no regrets about Hugh. I did what he allowed me to do for him and some time ago I wrote him a letter telling him how much I loved him and why, and what I would miss about him."
"Are you wondering why I did that?" she asked. When I nodded, Anne began, "Some years ago, when I was training to be a coach, I was given the assignment to imagine that I had only one year to live; I was in good health and money was not an obstacle but in 365 days, I would be switched off. I was to write down what I would stop doing, what I would keep doing, and what I would start doing that I was not doing now.
"One of the things I said I would start doing is telling the people who had made an impact on me and my life and thank them; acknowledge what a difference that had made to me, how important it was and how much I appreciated them.
"It was a lovely idea, but I didn't do it.
"I completed the same exercise a few years later and again I wrote down my intention to tell the important people in my life how much they meant to me. I made a list of who I would see and speak to.
"But, again, I didn't take any action.
"Then, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While it was early stage and likely could be arrested, I realized that I was not invincible; that I had no guarantee of how long I would be here.
"That was in October 2017.
"During 2018 and throughout 2019, I traveled to see the people on my list. That took one big road trip and several flights. And I did see virtually every one of the people on my list. Those I did not see, I wrote letters to - not text, not email, cursive letters on good paper which I hand addressed and mailed via Canada Post.
"There were some people for whom I did both. Hugh was one of those people. Yes, I told him face-to-face, but he waved it away as if he couldn't accept the love and appreciation, as if whatever he had said or done was "nothing."
"When it was evident that his illnesses were getting the better of him and he would not agree to see me (even before the COVID restrictions), I wrote him the letter I mentioned earlier.
"I said all I had to say and did all that he allowed me to do; I have no regrets. He knew I loved him. I am sad that he is gone and I will miss him until we meet again.
"My promise to myself is that I will tell people that I love what I appreciate about them and make sure that we part happy. In every encounter, I will give my highest best and I will sign off with, "Remember, I love you!"
Imagine a world in which we all gave our highest and best to every encounter and parted with, "Remember, I love you!" Or, if that is not comfortable, "Remember I appreciate you!" In any case, something uplifting and validating!
I for one would like to live in that world. Let's help Anne to create it!