Beeping from the heart monitor remains steady. She’s awake, mentally alert. She can see the faces of her loved ones surrounding her. She can feel the tears plop from their eyes onto her blanketed legs. Her children. Her grandchildren. Her sisters. Her husband. They all look upon her—their hands sending warmth to her hands, her arms.
It’s almost time now.
Knowing this day was coming, she’s been saying her goodbyes for days. She’s nearing the end.
They know she loves them. And she knows they love her. She’s told them a million times over the years.
She had always pictured this moment—on her deathbed. Her vision had come true: old, frail, at the end of having lived a long, joyous life. And she had been right.
It didn’t come as a shock to her, because she was often right, although her husband and sisters didn’t like to admit it much. It was true nonetheless.
When she was younger, a young mother, she would often stop her mind from wandering down a path of comparison by asking, “On your deathbed, will you look back and regret this choice or rejoice in this choice?” She knew she’d regret wasting time on the news. Wasting time scrolling. Wasting time flipping channels. She knew she’d regret wasting energy on being angry with others, wasting energy trying to please others. And she was right. She was also right that spending her days doing nothing but watching her young children play was not a waste of time. That she wouldn’t regret it on her deathbed.
“I’ll look back and be glad I stayed up all night rocking him to sleep. I’ll probably miss this time,” her younger self had thought.
Now, as she struggled to breathe, she mustered the strength to laugh. I was right, she thought. I’d give anything to go back to those simple days of holding my babies… playing with my kids.
Sure, she gave up a lucrative career. She missed the opportunity to make loads of money. And she never accomplished those career goals. Never won any awards. Her title remained the same for so long: Stay At Home Mom. She never got much praise from the outside world.
Instead, she spent her days singing silly songs and blowing raspberries. Her hair was never very glamorous, and she was only able to squeeze in a few minutes for herself at the end of a long, tiring day.
But it was worth it.
Because on her deathbed, she didn’t regret a single moment. She wouldn’t have traded a kiss on her baby’s cheek for a big fat check. Money was meaningless. She wouldn’t have traded a day of doing nothing but watching her children play for an arbitrary writing award. It would have only collected dust.
She didn’t need the world to love her. She just wanted her family to.
And as she looked around the bright white, sterile hospital room, just as she was starting to drift away, she knew she’d accomplished the most important dreams she’d ever had.