If I Had My Life to Live Over

attributed to Erma Bombeck*
From email — April 21, 2000

*The email stated that Ms. Bombeck wrote this “after she found out she was dying from cancer” but actually this wasn’t the case. According to this article on Snopes.com, it’s based on something she wrote in 1979. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and underwent a mastectomy, but she died in 1996 of complications after kidney surgery (see this New York Times article).


I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s.” More “I’m sorry’s.”

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it… live it… and never give it back.

Stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what.

Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who DO love us.

Let’s think about what God HAS blessed us with.

And what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually.

Life is too short to let it pass you by.

We only have one shot at this and then it’s gone.

I hope you all have a blessed day.


Visitor Al from New Jersey (USA) sent me this note on February 27, 2005:

Just a small note about Erma Bombeck. Erma did not die of cancer. Her death occurred a few days after she had a kidney transplant, which failed. Since she was in her 20s, Erma knew she had polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disease passed on to her by her father (who had left Erma and her mother). She said, jokingly, as always, “It’s the only thing my father ever gave me.” She did have breast cancer. It was treated with chemo and radiation, but she got past that problem. Her death was caused by an unsuccessful transplant. No matter the cause, she’s been sorely missed ever since.

Read all about Erma’s death at this article:
CNN - Erma Bombeck dies at age 69
(article is no longer there; see link at the top of this page)

Al and I exchanged a few more emails in early March of 2005; he shared these thoughts about Erma, which I have posted with his permission:

Erma Bombeck was very active as a volunteer with children for cancer. She was asked to do some sort of work with kids at a summer camp for children with cancer. She was very hesitant to do it because she didn’t think she could handle seeing a group of suffering kids, but it turned out to be one of the best things she ever did. From then on, she was a tireless worker in fund-raising for children with that horrific disease. Because of that, people think she died of cancer. Because polycystic kidney disease is passed along to other generations, she wanted people to be aware of it. In her case, she didn’t know her father had it until she was diagnosed. Her father died of it. The woman had a number of terrible tragedies in her life and still managed to keep us smiling, and herself too. When the priest gave her eulogy he said (I can’t remember the exact words) If anyone could return from the dead, I would wish for Erma. Can you imagine the stories she would tell about it? She was a wonderful person all around. The world would profit greatly with a few more like her.

…Dig up a site on her and read some of her columns. She was a great wit and brought life’s problems, big or small, down to a level where you could find some reason to laugh right out loud about them. Erma made note (and light) of those memorable moments, such as when your 5 year old asks “Where do babies come from?” and why most ironing boards go up when you first marry and never get put away. Her insights on child care and kids growing up are still treasures. Her advice and observations will never go out of style! Give her a read.

There are thousands of sites devoted to Erma Bombeck, her life and her humor. A mere casual Internet search yielded the following gems: