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Barb Kromphardt

She’s got leaving on her mind

I don’t know if it’s the time of year or what’s going on in my life, but I’ve been thinking about death lately.

No, not from a gloomy, morbid perspective, but from a more practical viewpoint.

Part of the issue is the recent death of a friend. He was only 53 years old and in apparently wonderful health, so his death is being taken very hard by everyone who knew him.

It just makes you think.

How many of us in these golden middle years of life are thinking about death?

We’re all working hard to recover from the financial challenges of raising children. We’re trying to pay our bills and sock some money away for retirement — some far off day in the future.

The brighter ones among us are working on leaping past middle age in bright, shiny and healthy bodies, and not someday dragging our sorry carcasses to the early bird dinner specials.

We’re looking to the future, but what if today is all we have left?

One of the best country songs in recent years asked us to live as if we were dying. To do all the things today that we would do if there wasn’t going to be a tomorrow.

I liked the song when I first heard it, and I still do — although going two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu is not one of my particular goals.

But what are my regrets about the life I’m living?

I saw an interesting article in the AARP magazine the other day — not that I’m old enough to belong to that fine organization, don’t you know.

Anyway, the article was about regrets people most commonly have before they die.

The most common regret was they wished they had led a life more true to who they really are, not the life expected of them.

Wow. I’m not too sure about this one.

Certainly I have regrets about some of the choices I’ve made — particularly about grabbing just any job out of college rather than backpacking across Europe.

But I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted at 22, and it’s only hindsight to say I should have done this or that instead.

One quote I’ve always liked is the one about life is what happens while you’re planning something else. Is there anyone out there who plans their life, and then has it work out according to that plan? That actually sounds kind of boring.

Another regret is that people wish they haven’t worked so hard.

Sometimes my regrets run the other direction. I was home for about 10 years while my children were little, and my annual Social Security earnings statement reflects that. My lifelong earnings are small, and my personal retirement savings would match that.

But wish that I had worked and missed that time with my babies? Not going to happen.

Other people regret they didn’t have the courage to express their feelings.

Well, no, nope, not a particular shortcoming of mine. Other than a certain boy or two I might have had a crush on back in my younger days, I’ve never had trouble expressing my feelings. If I love you, I’ll tell you. Sometimes that love hasn’t been reciprocated, but that’s OK. You don’t love someone just to get them to love you back.

A final regret for many people is that they have lost touch with their friends.

I have regrets like that, too, but it’s not that simple. People get busy; people move away; and nearby friends can fill needs distant friends can no longer fill. Another favorite saying of mine is you meet people, some for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime.

I’ll be bonded to one woman forever who shared a medical crisis with me, although I haven’t seen her is 20 years.

There are more people who were amazing friends when we lived nearby, who are now fond memories and Facebook friends.

And as for that lifetime friend, well, my sister and I are still hanging in there.

Looking back on all this, maybe I have lived like there’s no tomorrow.

I’ve made plans ... and lived with the reality of what’s happened instead.

I’ve made choices ... and I’m content to accept the consequences.

And if I love you ... you know it.

Not such a bad life after all.

BCR Staff Writer Barb Kromphardt can be reached at bkromphardt@bcrnews.com.

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