My grandmother (Nana) passed away earlier this year, leaving us, yet joining her loved ones in heaven. She is someone who you would say lived her life to the fullest, living one month shy of her ninetieth birthday. She became ill approximately a month leading up to the time she passed away. This gave time for the family to come together, including my brother and his family from British Colombia, to traverse all the way to Pennsylvania to say our goodbyes. One of the sweetest moments in my life is when my dad,my brother and I sat around her hospital bed one night. We spent this time letting her know how much we loved her, how much she meant to us and how blessed our families were to have her in their lives. We then preceded to pray with her as tears streamed down our faces, knowing this would be one of the last times we would spend with her this side of heaven. It was a sad but peaceful moment which brought closure to our hearts.
This was especially sweet to have this opportunity because earlier in the year, I had a friend pass away suddenly at the age of 51. I was therefore robbed of telling him what he mean to me and what a special person he was in my life. At his funeral a microphone was passed around as person after person told their stories of how he affected their lives in amazing ways. They would tell how he would always make them feel special, and no matter what was going on he would always make time for you. One guy stood up and revealed that he had received a phone call from him the day before, but wasn’t able to answer it because he was in the middle of work. He mentioned how horrible he felt that he wasn’t there for him when he needed him and how he will never have that conversation with him.
The passing of these two got me thinking of how precious life is and how important it is to tell people how you feel about them. Why is it that many times we wait until after people die to tell them how much we love them and how important they are to us? I was fortunate with my Nana to know her time was coming to a close. But life doesn’t always work like this, and many times loved ones are taken from us in an instant, leaving us with words unsaid. I am sure that everyone reading this has lost a loved one that they were not able to tell them how much they meant in their lives, how they influenced you, made you better, or made you feel special in some way. During my grandmother’s funeral my Aunt had an idea to say our last words to those who didn’t have such an opportunity. During the funeral we were all handed a helium balloon and a permanent marker. We then wrote a message to her on the balloon conveying our goodbyes or penning some message that was special between us and her. We then went outside and let the balloon go to send her our goodbyes. I first thought this was a corny idea, because the realist side in me thought, “she is not going to really see this, what’s the point?” But as I looked around everyone was really enjoying it, and it seemed like a great cathartic tool to gain some closure if you had words left unsaid.
Let this be a call to action, let us not find ourselves in the predicament of regret of not speaking our hearts to those around us who we find special. Take the time to tell them now what they mean to you, how the make you a better person, or how they could always make you smile or forget your worries no matter what was going on in your life. Don’t let them leave you with words left unsaid.