Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.― Kurt Vonnegut
On my way to work everyday, I meet a middle-aged man carrying a single stem of red rose flower. I have always wondered what he needs it for, until I saw him heading to the cemetery across the road yesterday. Today, I initiated a small conversation as we walked. I learnt that he places it on his wife’s gravestone and has been doing that for the last 10 months since she passed on. He wished that he gave her one everyday when she was still alive. She would have really loved it.
I received a call from the hospital. A friend was admitted due to severe depression. She has always had her life all figured out and always looks happy. She lives in a high-end estate, drives a dream SUV and goes on vacation twice a year. She frequently asks how I am doing and how my family is. I have never asked how she is. I have always figured out that she is perfect.
I met a childhood friend of mine today. I haven’t spoken to her in seven years. We used to be best friends but I somehow got mad and cut her off because she couldn’t share her answers with me in our final university exam. We both passed though she was a grade higher. Years later now that doesn’t matter. I got a job and she is in business. We have seven years of lost friendship.
I recently got an offer for a job. I was really excited because it came after two years of commitment, focus and hard work to get the position. It was my dream company and the career growth that came with it was rewarding. As I explained this to my family, my 6 year-old daughter’s answer was that she knows I will not always make it home in time for dinner because the office was further than my current office. My son was concerned that I will not drop him to school everyday because I have to leave an hour earlier.
On her deathbed at 98 years old, my great grandmother told me that the greatest regret she had in life was that she worked so hard for material things that she forgot to live. The last few months before her death, she was critically ill and couldn’t do much. She spent time reading stories to her great grandchildren and talking to her grandchildren. She would sometimes pick fruits and flowers from the garden. According to her, it was the best time of her life and she wished she appreciated every year as much.
A friend of mine got her first child at 16 and her second child at 20. We all considered her a failure due to her delayed educational and career milestones. She lost her mom last year and the last thing she said to her is that she was so happy to have spent the last few years of her life with her grandchildren. Last week she was diagnosed with a rare condition that requires immediate removal of her uterus at 28 years. I used hateful words on her case before and gave absurd advice. I am glad she got the babies when she did.
If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit. — William J. Clinton
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