“If we remembered every day that we could lose someone at any moment, we would love them more fiercely and freely, and without fear–not because there is nothing to lose, but because everything can always be lost.”
~Facebook meme (Womenworking.com)
I’m not given much to outward sentimentality. Not that I don’t like it, it’s just not in my nature to outwardly be that way. But, this meme really hit home for me when it crossed my Facebook newsfeed the other day, so I shared it. It made me think of my relationship with my Mom and the circumstances of her last days.
For much of my life, our relationship was sometimes distant, sometimes conflicted, and always complicated. I loved her, and I knew she loved me, but it was rare for us to ever say it to each other. It was just not something we said to each other. We didn’t really begin to develop a truly close relationship until I was in my 30s and my parents had retired and I was living and working in Boston–over 4,000 kilometers away from where they lived. Maybe it was the distance and the fact that we only saw each other 2 – 3 times per year so we began to value the time together more, or maybe it was our own personal growth that drew us closer, I don’t know. Little was I to know that 10 years later, she would be gone.
As my Mom languished in pain for the last two months of her life in a Christian Science nursing facility, I had the inescapable feeling that she wasn’t going to survive. Despite the rosy reports from the nursing staff and the practitioner, my gut told me otherwise, although since I was still deep in the delusion of Christian Science myself, I tended to think a miracle would happen too. Nevertheless, I did begin to treat our now daily phone conversations like each one might be the last. Every conversation ended with an “I love you, Mom,” from me, and she would usually say, “more than you know…” I could feel the physical pain she was in come out in her voice. I wanted to make sure the last thing she heard from me was that I loved her. We had never said it much to each other throughout our lives. The day I made flight reservations to come out and see her, she died. “I love you” was the last thing I had said to her, just a few hours before she died, in our last conversation when I told her I was coming out to see her.
I think also of an acquaintance of mine who recently drowned. He was a close friend to many of my current friends, and while I didn’t know him well, his death impacted me strongly as well. I spent a lot of time thinking on the fact that life truly can turn on a dime and go in very unexpected directions. You never know if this will be your last day, or if someone close to you will live their last day today. My friend’s death very deeply impacted a couple of people I know who were very close to him, one of whom was with him when he drowned.
Bottom line, savour every moment you have with someone you care about. If you love someone, make sure they know that–always, not just once in awhile. You never know when that last day will come. As I’ve heard many say, never go to bed angry.