Living Without Regrets

I sat at his bedside as he shared his memories with me. While the recent surgery was successful in providing him with more time to spend with his family, it had not altered the fact that he would soon be dead.

He pressed the button that would trigger another dose of morphine to relieve his pain before uttering the words that would remain with me for years—”I wish I had taken those trips when I had the chance. I wish I had spent more time with my family than at work. I have so many regrets.”

That final declaration would become the basis for how I live my life and the legacy that I will one day leave behind.

You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.—The Music Man

We are so often focused on the future, saving for retirement or the next big purchase. We often say “There’s always tomorrow.” But what about today?

A friend recently shared an experience she just had: “Last night standing in line at Whole Foods the woman ahead of me collapsed and died. She was about my age. She and I crossed each other in the store; each buying baby carrots, yoghurt, some fruit. Saw her over by the cheese section, too. I put my food on the same carousel. I am thinking about her, about our lives and our deaths. How was her last day?”

living without regrets

Another friend of mine, an avid traveler, and I have been discussing her current conundrum. She has an opportunity to visit Iran for a few weeks. She was struggling with the decision for various reasons and was deciding if perhaps she should just wait and do it later.

But what if later never comes? The woman in the Whole Foods store was only about 50 years old. I’m sure she thought she had plenty of time left.

I shared in a previous post about the lady who had dreamed of taking an Alaska cruise. It was her life-long dream, and she was looking forward to retirement before she took her long-awaited trip. Unfortunately, she suffered a massive stroke that left her bedridden, and she died before fulfilling her dream.

We were only a few months away from embarking on our nomadic adventure when I became her hospice chaplain. What a powerful confirmation for me!


What keeps up from living without regrets? Is it fear? A bunch of excuses?

living without regrets

I refuse to waste my final moments of life reviewing all the things I didn’t do, the time I wasted that should’ve been spent with my son, etc. Instead, I want that time to savor my memories. I want to reminisce with my family about the memories we made together.

Life is too damn short to have it full of “what if” and “should have” thoughts.

Will you commit to yourself and loved ones to live a life without regrets?


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Author: Talon Windwalker

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  1. I completely agree and I am pleased that it is something that I realised while I am still young. I haven’t wasted a moment of the last 10 years and I will continue to live my life on my terms with lots of new experiences and travel filling my days. I love that quote from the Music Man 🙂

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    • So great that you realized that early on! Unfortunately, most of us will either never learn or it or take until we’re much older.

      One of my all-time favorite quotes!

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  2. Wise words, Talon. Thanks for sharing these stories. I can’t imagine the impact on your friend to see someone collapse and die in front of her. And, I agree. Living with regret is a waste of time. We all make mistakes but if we learn from our mistakes, then we can move on and not carry the regret with us.

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