Given all the craziness of the last week -- Boston, West, Texas, etc. it is a perfect time to reflect on all the things you should have, could have, would have said ..."if only." As they said in the commentary, we don't get to set Mother Nature's clock. You have to do it now before your chance is forever taken from you.
Author Jackie Hooper started thinking about this concept when Natasha Richardson died unexpectedly a couple of years ago. The actress developed a brain hemmorage after a seemingly innocuous hit to the head while on the ski slopes. Her family and friends never had a chance to say what they needed to say as she died within two days of her fall. Jackie sent out a note to friends, family and elsewhere -- asking people to write to her with those things that they wish they had said. Letters poured in from all over the world. She turned that into a book.
Watching this piece brought upon so many emotions at once. I miss my dad, and I know I would have liked to tell him things -- maybe correct things I said in anger -- or at least explain them -- and now I can't. I also think of times when I was really a jerk. Not quite a bully, but I didn't have the best intentions when I opened my mouth. I wince internally when I try to figure out why I reacted in the way I did, so many years ago. Occasionally, I reach out to people (and they must think I've lost my marbles) and say -- remember about oh, 25 years ago, I said...
On the other hand, I really try to tell people who are in my life why they are important to me. My kids and husband are smothered sometimes -- as I think you should say "I love you" and mean it -- and I always feel so filled with gratitude when they spontaneously burst with emotion. My close friends know that I love them, and care for them, and feel better because they are in my life. I say so only when I mean it -- because I think you can feel when someone truly loves you, regardless of what words they may use or choose not to say. It's always tricky to put yourself out there, especially with declarations of love. Maybe the other person doesn't think you are a best friend, maybe she feels funny -- as we all have our internal scripts about loyalty and devotion.
Say what you have to say. It's hard, it's scary, it can be fraught with its own "what if's." But if you need to apologize, explain, or express something -- just do it. Your very world may change because of it. I know mine has. And it will continue -- as I push myself to be honest with the people who have brought so much into my life.