I had a dream last night that broke my heart. My brother, who had died in 2013, came back briefly to Earth because he had unfinished work. I don’t think this dream had any deeper meaning than missing my brother, but it was one of those dreams that take up the entire night and is so real and so emotional that you wake up confused and sad. I woke up with this hard knot of grief lodged just below my breastbone that seemed to scratch my heart every time I breathed; it was a grief that had dulled over the last four years. I thought it had worn down smooth; I guess not.
The point isn’t about a grief that lasts a lifetime or even about my brother—I suspect that he has work enough on the other side that he doesn’t need to come back here. The point is about unfinished work. I couldn’t help but wonder if there are things he regretted during those last hours of his life (the fall didn’t kill him immediately). I know that he wanted a family of his own and, while he worked at it, it didn’t quite materialize in the way he had dreamed.
So then I started to think about my unfinished work. If I was to die tomorrow, would I have regrets? Adam died suddenly and tragically, but he was actively looking for his forever family. I’m confident that if he had lived, he would’ve found an amazing woman to marry. He would’ve had kids. He might not have realized his dreams to completion, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I believe with all my heart that if he had regrets, it was for the family he left behind, the family that he wasn’t able to say goodbye to.
I don’t know if I could say the same. Have I put my whole heart into my work, into my dreams? Even if I fail, have I tried? Happiness doesn’t come from success so much as from the effort. The work.
Friends, I pray that you—and I—grab those opportunities that emerge, and create those that don’t. I hope that you try even if you fail. I dream that you leave this life one day safe in the knowledge that you have no unfinished work, even if you didn’t succeed in all you set out to do.
Don’t be afraid to fly. Just try. That’s all any of us can do.
And Choose Joy.