November 26, 2006

Life, Death and Regret

They say life review comes in your 40s. How will Purple WomenTM measure up and to whose standards when that time comes? There are also other triggers, such as death for example.

If your husband dies, will you wish you had his child? When the matriarch of your family leaves you and continues on to whatever is next, will you reconsider your family status? A recent commenter left a message calling us, the childfree, "fools" for not realizing that if our own mothers had decided not to have us, we would not be here to have this conversation. I deleted the comment as it was base name-calling and judgmental and did not add anything to the intelligent conversation that had preceded it.

I think it really comes down to what you believe. Are your beliefs as good as someone else's? Is there any common ground at all? If you are not here, is your soul somewhere else? This conversation, if pursued to its logical course, takes an interesting turn rather quickly.

To me it really boils down to a very simple question: Do you do harm or do you help? Some would go further to ask themselves, "What footprint do I leave on this world?" or "Do I make a difference?"

We said goodbye to a family matriarch last week. She definitely made a difference, and so shall I. Perhaps I already have.

[Photo: Originaly uploaded to Flickr on October 5, 2006 by andrebernardo]

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Anonymous said...

I think we'd all be lying if we said those thoughts don't cross our minds. After all, for those of us who consider ourselves Purple Women, this decision is a product of careful deliberation.

We make our marks in other ways. We use the extra time to volunteer, to mentor the less fortunate (at least I do). Public works programs and other charities benefit from our dollars, nevermind the taxes we still have to pay for the public schools we don't send children to. We go above and beyond, filling in as last-minute caregivers for the kids of others, confidants when the confused kids in our lives feel they can't talk to their parents.

To imply that we won't make a mark is a dig on not just us, but to the folks who have tried for years without luck to conceive, to those who weren't financially able to afford adoption, or those so worn out by the loss of young children to care for another "replacement" child. And to that, I await a response from our judgmental friend, "but that's different…"

AlphaGirl said...

One of my closest friends is dying of Lupus. She is 45, and the mother of two grown kids, ages 24 and 22. We talk often about regret and living a life as free of it as possible. We talk of the importance of creating joyful memories for our "mental scrapbooks", and of going at each day 100% whenever possible. Her son is engaged to be married. It is doubtful she will be alive when he gets married. She speaks often of having few, if any regrets. She is as ready as one can be for her passing.

I've had some health issues over the years that have caused me to re-evaluate or re-examine life choices and events. I have a chronic viral infection that can either lead to Lupus, Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and a host of other ills, or it can remain dormant and leave me the hell alone. It's out of my hands. On days when I hear this little time bomb ticking in my B cells, I can honestly say that while I may have questioned my line of work, relationships, city of residence, finances, etc. I have never questioned my decision to be childfree. Even with the death of some family memmbers, it has not changed.

It is the one aspect of my life that will never change. I don't worry about leaving a mark, or making a difference. I'm a tiny speck in this universe, and living a life free of regrets and living in good health is enough for me.

As for the judgemental person who commented and who was summarily delleted, methinks they're wrestling with some regrets of their own.