Not many people like to think of their own death. I think no matter what our age is, we still possess a certain amount of expectation of invincibility that the youth is so imbued with. Unless there are certain factors at play (health issues, risky activities), we all think we have time.
And I hope we do. Don't get me wrong. I'm not here to tell you I know something I don't. I am hoping I have many "happy years" left in me, and that there are still more years to come than years that have passed, although I realize that I'm at the age where I could be at the half-way point, or past it, even though I don't quite feel I'm there yet. Or I hope that I'm not there yet.
But I was reading Dear Abby this morning, as I usually do each morning, and a letter she received got me thinking about my own death. Well, less my death, than what message I would want my loved ones to know if I were suddenly gone.
The letter (which I will paste below to satisfy your morbid curiosity!) was from a recent widow whose last experience with her husband was a fight. He went out the door angry, and was in a fatal car accident while talking on the cellphone with his brother. The gist of her letter was trying to deflect the blame his family was placing on her for his death (LOVELY!) and to serve as a warning about cellphones and driving.
But what struck me (perhaps a poor choice of words) was this idea of losing someone or more accurately, dying without someone else knowing how much I loved them. (And yes, Garth Brooks had a song about this, too "If Tomorrow Never Comes") Now the reality is that I doubt that there are very few people in my life who don't know how I feel about them. And this one person I was thinking about in particular, I do know that she knows how I feel. But if I were - God forbid! - to walk out the door today, and be hit by a car (because we don't really have that many busses in a small town, and while I do live near the railroad tracks, I'm usually smart enough not to step in front of one of those), I do feel that there is "unfinished business" with this person. I know that really, if I'm dead, it's been finished. But, there are still a few things, I want her to know - reinforced, perhaps - if I weren't here to tell her myself in the future. The reality is I don't like having doubts, and so I don't want those I love ever having doubts either.
So my poor friend Robin (who lives in another time zone) is going to wake up and find a very morbid e-mail waiting for her. (Sorry, Robin..). It first started out giving her some very specific information of what to communicate to whom. But then, I couldn't help myself, apparently, since I was on the topic, and I gave her details about how I wanted to be cremated and what I wanted done with my ashes, etc. (Again, sorry, Robin...)
But I realized that here is the real problem. I'm not really sure how my friends far and wide would get notice. I mean, I feel fairly certain that people here would find and notify my family. And that people locally would know, and folks that my family knows would know... but there's still a whole lot of ground that might not get covered. Including Robin.
Hopefully, this isn't something that would ever become an issue (although maybe I'll send a second follow-up e-mail to Robin with a clue about my social networking passwords... ), but in this day and age of far flung friends, who knows and notices when one falls off the radar?
Okay - not going in that direction this morning. ;)
But if you take anything away from this post, I hope you share in my sense of the importance to let those you love always know how much you love them. Hug your significant other if you're fortunate enough to have one. Tell your best friend how much you appreciate him or her. Let those you care about know how much you care while you're still around to tell them. Because life is too precious to live in anger, or pain, or insecurity or to leave those we love in those states. We humans and our relationships are really all we each have of substance. These are the things that matter at the end of the day. Make sure those that matter know how much they matter. This is one area where you don't want to leave them guessing...
The original letter, which again, touches upon issues I hope no-one else ever has to deal with, but nonetheless got me thinking and writing this morning... Oh, and send a prayer for this Idaho Widow that she might find some peace given this horrible tragedy.
DEAR ABBY: A few weeks ago my husband and I were having an argument. He stormed out of the house and was killed in a wreck while talking to his brother on his cellphone.
His family blames me for arguing with him. While I feel sad that the last thing we did was argue, I feel his brother should shoulder some of the blame because he was on the cellphone with him, which is illegal in our state.
Luckily, no one else was hurt in the crash, but I am very hurt that "John's" family is so angry at me. Please remind folks not to drive while on a cellphone. -- IDAHO WIDOW