A Best Friend’s Gift: Living Without Regret

Regret is normal in situations where you lose a loved one or someone close to you. It’s natural, and so easy to fall into thinking about things you wish you’d done, wish you’d said or that you regret doing. The mind too easily focuses on the negative because you are already in a dark place — misery loves company.

Regret is something that has invaded my mind way too much, and I did a lot of time regretting during the time that Jimmy was sick and after he died. I regretted not visiting him more. I regretted going to Gonzaga University instead of Santa Clara University because then I could have seen him more, even though Jimmy encouraged me to go to Gonzaga. I regretted not telling him how much he meant to me, that he was one of my best friends and the person that I looked up to the most. I regretted not being there for his family more. I regretted not asking Jimmy how he was doing and how he was handling everything. I wished I had been more direct, honest and communicative about what he was going through.

Clearly, it was something that I struggled with — I would tell myself that I was there for him and that I did the best I could at being his friend when he needed me, but my regrets kept eating at me. Unsurprisingly, the one thing that helped me with this was Jimmy. He didn’t like to live with regrets or focus on coulda/woulda/shoulda. He lived in the moment, said how he felt when he felt it and made decisions based on what was most important and what he wouldn’t regret. Who he was at his heart, along with his cancer diagnosis and the experiences he went through, led him to be a genuine, caring, thoughtful individual who liked to cherish the present moment and not dwell on the past.

Those of you who knew Jimmy know that he loved movies — he was an avid moviegoer who knew way too much about the details of movies and actors/actresses. The last movie I saw with Jimmy was “We are the Millers,” a silly, ridiculous comedy with Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston. Dan, Jimmy and I all agreed that it was a pretty funny movie, not outstanding, but definitely not bad.

One of the most memorable scenes occurs when the daughter brings her boyfriend back to meet her “family”. The boyfriend is covered in tattoos and is clearly not the smartest. Across his neck, he has a tattoo that says “No Ragrets,” Jason Sudeikis says, “Really? Not even a single letter?”

As I was thinking about Jimmy and his death, I kept coming back to regrets I’ve had. But then I shifted my focus and started thinking about the good times I’ve had with Jimmy and all the things we did together. My mind wandered to the last movie we saw. I distinctly remember all of it — the movie itself, the trip to the theater, the “no ragrets” scene. Jimmy wouldn’t want me to regret anything so I will continue this fight against regret and focus instead on enjoying every moment I have in this world with the people I care about most and cherish every moment along the way.

Willie currently lives in Telluride, Colorado, with his partner, Erika, and their two adopted senior dogs (Eugene and Teddy). He spends most of his time running, trying out new mountain activities, relaxing with his dogs, and working as a website developer and digital marketer. Willie still misses his best friend every day but finds reminders all around him, whether he’s rooting for the Blazers or laughing at a movie Jimmy would have loved. His essay first appeared on the Salt Water blog.

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