"Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh".
-Henry David Thoreau
First of all, I don’t believe anyone who says they have NO regrets. But, I’ll get to that later.
I was physically exhausted from working all day, it was cold out and I just wanted to go home. I had been invited to dinner and thoughts of canceling came into my mind. But then I thought of how much I loved seeing my dear friend, Angela and how few people invited me over for dinner these days. So, I packed up my belt buckles that she wanted to see, grabbed the dog, a bottle of wine and headed over.
Our dogs frolicked in the grass, us blasting Neil Young’s, Cowgirl in the Sand, my favorite song of his as she was actually heading to his ranch in Half Moon Bay to meet him on a business opportunity. As she made dinner, we fleshed out ideas for an art workshop collaboration we were putting together for the women of Safehouse in our city.
Angela was one of those people, a total badass….lawyer, turned judge, turned advocate for women to help end sexual assault in Colorado. But she was a great artist as well. I met her through many art workshops she attended of mine. She would get there early and set up her suitcases full of art materials. She just couldn’t get enough.
As we sat down to eat a wonderful shrimp dinner, Angela talked like she was in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. I listened. From her upbringing with two adoring Hispanic parents in Santa Fe, her one and only love and marriage, her purposeful and passionate career and the love of her sister that she just had given a bone marrow transplant to that save her life. We talked about how our art/empowerment workshop collaboration would benefit he women of safehouse and our mutual affinity for the Virgin Mary.
We said our goodbyes at the door, made a plan to meet in four days, hugged and away I went, energized, inspired and fully awake and alive; the opposite of how I had arrived.
I was the last person to see Angela alive.
Her husband who was out of town on business called to tell me the news two days later. It was her heart, in bed that night after I saw her, most likely a new and very experimental medication for her asthma that affected her heart. I was in shock. After I heard the news, I played and replayed every minute and every conversation in my head from that night together. Oddly, it was as though she knew this was it for her. She even used the words, “I’ve had a wonderful life”.
I don’t quite believe or trust anyone who says they have NO regrets. I believe we all have regrets. Regrets come from choices taken, or maybe choices not taken. Little teeny choices that make a big life well lived. Like choosing to go to Angela’s that night. That night I didn’t cancel. It seemed like a small choice, later realizing it was huge. That night I didn’t cancel and learned the value of no regrets. To choose carefully.
The only real regrets I have as I get older are the choices I’ve made where I didn’t live boldly enough, that I didn’t invest enough heart, that I didn’t love enough. Sure, I have those “dumbass, why’d you sell that house too soon?", or all the other should’ve could'ves. But those aren’t the regrets that keep me awake at night.
Because you can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.
I thought of what I would say at Angela’s memorial. I was hoping to give especially her parents the comfort of knowing how at peace she was that night. And then my eyes got huge. It suddenly dawned on me the belt buckle, her wearable shrine of intention she chose.
Of all the buckles I’ve made, she chose one that said, “The Time is Now”. On the back it said, “This is not a Dress Rehearsal”.
Not only did she leave with a message to someone about what a wonderful life she had, but she left her mark, to live in the moment of now and not waste time, that this life is not a dress rehearsal.
After the memorial her beloved husband invited me over to have any and all of her art supplies. She is still a part of my workshops with all of her supplies for all to share. They will be available at this Saturday’s workshop that will be dedicated to those we’ve loved.
I believe regrets are necessary in a way. They are reminders to forgive. To forgive ourselves.
To not be beating ourselves up over the years, but to be seen as reminders of self-love. To give ourselves a hug when that big bad regret rears its dark side and know we did the best we could given that choice at the time with what we had to work with.
And create a lot.
That is my mantra.
And to pick up the phone and invite someone I love over to dinner. And to not turn down invitations to be with loved ones when they come my way.
And bring the dogs. They know how to live like there’s no tomorrow.
Well done, Angela. Well done.
Your forever friend,
P. S. This morning, when I finished writing this, I turned on the radio station, not my own playlist mind you. What do you think began playing from the beginning? You guessed it, Hello Cowgirl in the Sand. I can’t make this up. I had chills. Of all the millions of songs, maybe billions, that one came on. I danced and sobbed and hugged Emmy Lou. And grinned up to the sky on this beautiful fall day.