When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he moved in with my youngest brother.
Knowing my father didn’t have much time left, my brother invited me and our other siblings to stay with him. This allowed each of us to spend as much time as possible with my father, as well as lean on each other for support.
We learned so much during those few weeks and our love for him grew with each passing day. For the first week he was there, we would stay up until the early morning hours telling stories, singing, listening to his words of wisdom, and most importantly, just enjoying being with each other.
Shortly before his death, my father asked to speak to each of us individually. We each waited our turn, knowing this would probably be the last time he would be aware of our presence — his organs had begun to fail and his strength was fading quickly.
Finally, my turn came. When I entered the room, I could see that his eyes were closed. I thought he might have drifted back to sleep. I stood there for a moment watching him — the face of an angel.
I eased to the side of his bed and sat down. Without opening his eyes, my father reached for my hand and smiled. As I sat there watching this man quickly pass from us, I thought of all the things I wanted to say. I wanted to tell him all of the things I was going to miss — the smell of his aftershave, the sound of his voice on the other end of the phone, books to compare with the person with whom I shared a love of reading, his unwavering faith in me, his Christian example, and maybe most of all his smile — the smile of an angel. There were other things I wanted to say as well, such as “if only.” Instead, we sat in silence, holding hands, thankful for the closeness we’d always shared.
After awhile I leaned over to kiss him goodnight. As I did, a tear fell and landed on his cheek. Never opening his eyes, he smiled and whispered, “No regrets.”
With those two words, I knew there was nothing left unsaid. The love we shared was far greater than any words. It was as if he could see deep into my heart and know what I felt at that exact moment. He didn’t want me to worry about anything I could not change.
Instead, he wanted me to be happy with the memories I could forever keep in my heart and not dwell on any of the “if only’s.” He not only wanted me to be content with the relationship I had shared with him, he wanted me to be content with the relationship I shared with my family, friends and most importantly, my relationship with Christ.
Of all things my father taught me over the years, the lesson I learned that night was the greatest — to try to live a life with “No regrets.”
Marcia Hodge [email protected]
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