What would you say to someone if you knew they were about to leave your life forever? How many things would you want to do with them if you knew you would never see them again? If you knew you would never hold them again, would you hug them tighter? Hold them longer? Try and commit every line and freckle on their face to memory? Breathe in their scent so that you could recall their smell every time you missed them? There are so many things we would do differently if we knew that today was it.
Growing up, it seemed like I went to a funeral almost every year – some for grandparents and uncles and some for childhood friends. I grew to hate the smell of lilies because it was solidified in my mind as the standard funeral smell. I learned very early on in life that tomorrow isn’t a promise; no matter how old or young you are, you have no guarantee that there is life beyond today – beyond this moment.
The last few years have brought some extremely gripping losses for my family – mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, stepmothers, stepfathers, cousins, and – most recently – loves. Yesterday, my brother lost his love. Just shy of ten months after we buried our father, loss dealt another blow. And as my sister and I sat on the phone with him last night crying for him – with him – I was struck by how little I could say to comfort him. Rarely ever am I at a loss for words, but in that moment words completely failed me. They were just merely left there, lingering in the air around me after I said them. They couldn’t reach him. They couldn’t hold him. They couldn’t wipe his tears or ease his pain. Words were just that. Words. And I was at a loss. I cannot help him or change this or fix this or do anything at all for him except tell him how sorry I am, and how much he is loved.
All through the night, I would wake up and just stare at the ceiling and think of him. Did he sleep? Did he dream? And how hard it would be when he woke up only to realize it was still real. I know that he has many questions. And I know that there is never going to be an answer for why. But I do know that today he is remembering every smile, every hug, and every kiss. And he is heartbroken. Sometimes words fail us. And people fail us. And there is more than enough opportunity for anger. But today, I want to take a moment and remind you that today may be all you get. So please say what you need to say. Tell her how much you love her smile. Tell him you think he’s wonderful. Let those hugs last a minute longer. Let kisses linger for another moment. And don’t walk away from love. Because there are so many things you will wish you had done differently if you knew today was it.