Have you every put off talking to someone about matters of the heart and waited too long? Have you ever wished that you had told someone the truth and waited too long? Have you ever known the facts, but kept them to yourself until it was too late to make a difference? Probably, your answer is yes to at least one of these questions. Our reasons for not acting or speaking up vary. Perhaps we didn’t really want to get involved in the drama. Or maybe we didn’t feel it was our place. Sometimes, the timing just doesn’t feel right. Whatever the reason or excuse, we feel awful when we’ve waited to late and the opportunity is gone. All of the wishing we can conjure up will not allow us to seize those moments in time again.
Recently, my cousin was found dead in his home. According to authorities he had been dead for more than a week before anyone found him. It was deemed a heart attack. When we were notified it was quite a shock. Yet, something remarkable had happened prior to that difficult news. Two weeks before this event, this cousin had called my mom. He had talked about his childhood and his memories of her as his babysitter. He had apologized for not staying in touch, and not visiting even when we were in the town where he lived visiting his dad. It was a joyous conversation. My mom was filled with happiness, and he had promised to come to see her around the holidays. My mother and I were amazed at his openness and the gladness in his voice, especially since we had not spoken to him since the death of my uncle several years before. There had been hard feelings at that time without any reconciliation.
Looking back, I wonder if he knew or felt that his time wasn’t long on this earth. I wonder if he thought about my mother’s age and thought that her health might not hold up. I wonder if he simply thought it was time to make things right while he had the chance. Of course, we may never know the answers to any of these questions, but I do know I’m glad he didn’t wait to late. Imagine the regret it would have left with my mom. Whatever his motivation was, all hard feelings were canceled; there was no place for regret or guilt. Our grief is not discolored by the anguish of irreconcilable differences. We are thankful for the last words spoken and the renewed sense of family.
Certainly, death doesn’t have to be the reason for waiting to late. We can assume people already know we love them or that we are thinking about them. We can be saving our intentions for a special occasion like their birthday, or their anniversary, or retirement party. Yet, if COVID 19 has taught us anything, it’s that times may never be the same and opportunities may not present themselves as they once did. My advise to all of us, myself included, is don’t wait too late. If it is within your power, take care of the words unspoken, the affections unoffered, the facts withheld, and the mission of the moment while you still have time. Don’t live with regret. Don’t add sorrow to your grief. Don’t allow wedges of discontent to destroy opportunities of unity and joy. Don’t wait too late to make a positive difference in someone’s life, especially your own.
Be safe! Stay sane! Seize the day!