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Today, a friend sent out an article that I received earlier this year by someone dear to me at a critical time in my life. It is titled “Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Susie Steiner of The Guardian. I remember looking at it then, going down the list, and seeing my own regrets of past years. I was working with cancer patients at the time as a nurse and gradually developing an awareness of what it is to finally know how to live when one was dying. These men and women had a deeper appreciation for life and death because they could see them more clearly. Their diagnosis, so often associated with death, had given them the freedom to reclaim their lives earlier than most, to reformulate an identity, because death was no longer a mystery, it was their reality. The conversations I had with these people helped me remember daily how precious both life and death are in this world. All the regrets in this article were my own, and when I read it, I decided this year was the year to live with no regrets, to see my past as a stepping stone, a lesson, a part of my present and future not to be hated or despised but loved and accepted as my own. To see suffering as beauty and inspiration.

Tomorrow is the end of the world. This is an irrational thought I have kept in my mind for quite a few years and partially why I felt such a desperation to change my path so drastically this past year. I felt I hadn’t been living life, and my time was running out. This idea only became more vivid to me when I was hit by a car this summer and broke my arm. If there was even the smallest possibility tomorrow would be my last, I wanted to feel in the moment it turned 12/21/2012 that I was okay with the life I had lived, that I could welcome death with open arms instead of fear. So I began to live for the first time, a full life, and what a beautiful year it has been. I have spent it meeting new, life-changing friends, valuing the friends and family I have more completely, loving the world with all my heart and learning from it, dancing with all my soul, allowing myself to be vulnerable by sharing my writing for the first time, seeking spiritual growth within myself and from wise mentors, learning to forgive myself so I can be free, experiencing peace in stillness, letting go to move forward and appreciate, and discovering how to give without resentment.

As I sit with my mother tonight, a TV Christmas special in the background, I see tears in her eyes as she tells me of her regrets and reasons why she chose the path she did. Regrets are often sacrifices so that loved ones can enjoy life more fully. Perhaps these are some of the most beautiful sufferings of all. Because in the end, they become blessings and no longer are regrets. They are the choices that hurt but people can find comfort in when reflecting on their past. Love is investing. It is when regrets become joyous pains, and the in-between of the two is a sharing of life and death that is beautiful and unmatched.

I spent my last day on earth buying a ticket to Honduras to learn Spanish and volunteer as a nurse in a clinic, making cookies with my mother while listening to Christmas songs, discussing “the right to bear arms” with respectful and intelligent individuals through a Facebook post, having good conversations with my father, giving both my parents long, tight hugs hoping they knew just how much I loved them despite all our differences, and sitting in a coffee shop with my first love and still dear friend reflecting on our lives and the many great lessons we have learned. As I drove home, I listened to the song “Let Her Go” by Passenger for the first time. As I sat in the garage of my parent’s house waiting for the song to finish, I felt a happy sadness. Yes, life is perfect right now…but then again it always was.

“Let Her Go” by Passenger

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you’ll make a dream last
But dreams come slow and they go so fast
You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you’ll understand why
Everything you touch, oh it dies

But you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
‘Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast
Well you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
‘Cause you loved her too much and you dive too deep

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go
Oh oh oh no
And you let her go
Oh oh oh no
Well you let her go

‘Cause you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go

‘Cause you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

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