I'm wishing that I knew everything about my grandma and her side of the family, hoping that I'm able to ask any important questions before it's too late and wishing that I'd been able to be around for visits more before she got really sick. I mean, it's been a long three years of her having cancer, and I definitely could have been around more than I was. I know she doesn't fault me for it - school and work and living further away are valid reasons, but all I know if that I feel like I could have done more. Being back as much as I have this month, and spending time with other family members reminiscing about old times has been very eye opening. I've heard a lot of family stories I'd never heard before, about my grandma and her brother growing up in Toronto, of my great- grandma's family and past, of my mom's experiences growing up and managed to laugh in the midst of the sadness.
There are some other positive aspects to her illness as well, at least for me. When Nannie was first diagnosed with cancer, her illness was an impetus for me to make a lot of changes in my life three years ago. Within a month of the diagnosis I'd decided to move from Toronto to Guelph, to see what would happen with a boy, to quit a job I was tired of, to and apply to go back to school in a field I was more interested in. Cancer has its positive effects too, I guess, in making you realize how limited our time really is, and how we can get stuck where we are, and sometimes need a push to get moving towards change. That the mortality of ourselves and those around us can remind us how we can't always put things off until later, since our time might end up running out before we get around to it.
Someone posted this article from the Guardian earlier, and since I've read it, it's all I can think about. A nurse working in palliative care asked her patients what their biggest regret was, and wrote a book about the top five regrets of her dying patients. No one regretted not spending more time working or studying or watching television or cleaning. Everyone regretted working too much, not spending time with friends, not having the courage to live the life they wanted to or express the emotions they wanted to express. They regretted holding themselves back from experiencing happiness and being complicit in being unhappy and unfulfilled in their lives.
I'd love for there to be an easy way to do all of this, but I guess I'll have to settle for asking for some help when I need it, and letting things go for now that aren't as important or pressing in the bigger scheme of things. And that will have to be enough, because it will be the best I can do.