If you were going to die soon and had only one telephone call you could make, whom would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?
Miracles would happen if we took the time to reflect on Stephen Levine's challenging questions. Who would you call? What would you say? And why are you waiting?
I think that I would call my two kids, hoping I could get them on the same line. I'd tell them how much they have meant to me, how I love them. I'd thank them for all the drama and comedy and challenge they brought into my life. I'd tell them how beautiful they both are and how grateful I am to God for allowing them into my life. At least, that's what I think I would do with that last phone call. I sure wouldn't talk about the weather or the 49ers.
The tougher question for me and I imagine, for most of us, is “And why are you waiting?” Why indeed? Is it because, at some level we are afraid to be completely open with our feelings? To pour out our love for a spouse or for a parent while he or she is still living and healthy is a risk isn't it? Maybe the person does not feel the same way about us or will take lightly what we say, even reject us.
So, we put off saying what is in our heart. If our loved one does have a terminal illness, we like to think that we will have the time and opportunity, Hollywood style, to kneel by his side, gaze lovingly into his eyes and tell him how we feel. He will smile back at us with love and go peacefully into the great beyond. Hogwash! It doesn't happen that way. Most of the time, the opportunity to say goodbye the way we would like, never presents itself. The things we wanted to say go unexpressed and unheard.
We try to make up for what we could have said during life by our words at the memorial service. We have all been there. A lineup of family members makes the deceased sound like the Blessed Virgin Mary. “She was a great mom and a marvelous wife. She touched our lives with her presence and her sense of humor. She loved her children more than anyone I have known,and so forth and so forth. In an honest moment you feel like asking someone, Am I at the right funeral? Are they talking about my friend, Edith? But you stuff the impulse.
I don't know if we need to beat ourselves up over our inability to express all that we feel towards our loved ones. We are human, after all. We get embarrassed and there are times when letting our feelings gush out is not all that smart. Besides, our actions speak louder than any words. We pretty much get that we are loved by the way people act towards us.
This being said, it helps to back up our behavior with words. I suggest that to let people know that they are loved and appreciated is one of the most beautiful gifts we can give them. Life is difficult and it can be lonely. To give someone a hug and an”I love you” can put a spring in his step and a smile on his face. So, “Why are you waiting?”