I was talking the other day to an old friend of mine about our lives and how different they turned out to be from what we imagined 45 years ago. Yes, I’ve known this particular friend since my undergraduate days of living in the Dayton Ohio area and we’ve both experienced life in many connected ways. The beauty of our friendship is we both love traveling, jazz music and have witnessed some incredible jazz musicians perform in many dynamic venues (big and small) across states.
My friend is also responsible for introducing me to my husband when I lived in California. So you see she always will have a special place in my heart. We are both widows now and live quite different lives. She is a great grandmother enjoying the multigenerational joy of watching children raise children, while being still young enough to maintain her independence. We try to combine our schedules to meet up at jazz venues in Washington, DC, Baltimore, or in Virginia and will travel to hear a great sax or piano player! Through it all, our love for each other and jazz has remained a constantly pleasant stable.
I, on the other hand find myself as the solo parent of an adult with disabilities and provide daily caregiving instructions as my daughter learns to navigate life with only one parent. It’s nothing short of a miracle to watch her grow into a fine, compassionate, good-natured woman after witnessing the death of her dad in 2015. I’m quite aware of the trauma she experienced that day and how she counts on me to be there for her every day. We have bonded in ways I never expected and I’m very thankful she’s in my life to push me forward.
While there’s gratitude, there is also regrets and sadness of a life unexpected. I never thought I’d be a solo widowed parent, attempting to make major life decisions alone. Decisions that can dangerously affect our current and future finances, housing, transportation and where we anchor our lives over the next 10-15 years. To say the least, these decisions weigh heavy on my heart and if allowed to, will accelerate me stumbling into a mindless, ungrateful state of depression and regrets.
What could I have done differently throughout my life that could have situated me to be in better position financially, physically, or even spiritually?
What decisions did I not make at the time that potentially set in motion the events that happened in my life?
What did I not see or talk about to my husband pertaining to his health? Should I have been more determined to make him attend doctor’s appointments? Or should I pushed him to see a specialist instead of waiting for a Veterans Administration appointment?
So many questions, with no answers that bring a sense of satisfaction. Just more questions.
I have determined, the best way moving forward is to limit my focus on the past and instead focus on the small joys I can experience today. Not concentrating on past failures and current disappointments can and will diminish any sense of gratitude.
I genuinely believe we all do the best we know to do at the time. So, I’m working on having no regrets about my life. By many respects I’m a successful woman (whatever that means), and I’m thankful to still have the ability to contribute positively to the earth to make things better.
Joy and fear cannot exist together. As a Christian, I’m called to live by faith, asking God to meet my daily needs. So, I’m working on minimizing the doubts, the anxieties, and the fears and learning more to trust.
I thank God for the people in my life who bring me joy. Yes my life is different than my dear friends, but its best I not compare. When we can get together, it is a bright spot in my day and I’m thankful for the blessing of our friendship. Admittedly it’s not very often I experience the flow of a joyful day, but when I do, it flows from my heart like jazz melodies flowing from gifted musicians. Then, I’m able to share with those around me to encourage and lift them up.
That’s what make life worth living- being able to share it with others, with no regrets.