Life is too short for bad good-byes

With Gr o ac G e

Record Observer - - Front Page -

Love the peo­ple God gave you be­cause he will need them back some day. OK, stop, what if the last thing you said to your hus­band or child as they went out the door this morn­ing was the last thing they ever heard you say? Would you be wish­ing for a do-over? Would you want another chance to change what you said? Would you have shown love to the peo­ple God gave you?

This past week we have had two friends lose their spouses to can­cer. Both cou­ples were in their late 30s with chil­dren and ex­tended fam­i­lies who are no doubt strug­gling at this very moment with over­whelm­ing grief. I know in both these in­stances death wasn’t un­ex­pected; they had been deal­ing with the re­al­ity of a di­ag­no­sis for at least a year, and can­cer, as much as it is an un­wel­come, in­tru­sive and hate­ful guest, of­ten pro­vides a pe­riod of time to come to terms that your loved one will not be long for this earth.

But while it was ex­pected, how do you re­ally ever pre­pare for los­ing your best friend, your part­ner, your par­ent, your child? Did we say what needed to be said be­fore it was too late, or did we waste time on words and ac­tion that shouldn’t have been? It’s hard for me to ac­cept that life has this un­fair ad­van­tage, the right to give and take ... but we do get choose how we live out the days we are granted.

Life is too short, too pre­cious to waste on bit­ter words and bad good­byes. It sounds so trite, so sim­ple, but the truth is words mat­ter. This isn’t a col­umn to point out oth­ers’ flaws. If I’m hon­est, I’ve said a few bad good-byes my­self. Too of­ten I’ve found my­self wish­ing for a do-over.

We get im­pa­tient. We get frus­trated. We find other things to take pri­or­ity over the things that re­ally mat­ter.

Life is at once so very long and short. Those years your child is a tod­dler and ev­ery day is op­po­site day can seem to go on in­fin­itely. His­tory re­peats it­self when they en­ter mid­dle school un­for­tu­nately. But the years in be­tween ... they just fly past.

The same can be said for many other of our re­la­tion­ships, we take for granted a life­long friend­ship or that our spouse will for­give us be­cause they have to, but how much more joy can be found by cher­ish­ing those re­la­tion­ships in­stead of tak­ing for granted that we’ll have the next day and the next.

Ask your­self this ques­tion: Will this mat­ter a year from now? A day from now? Even an hour from now? Chances are, if the an­swer is no, it might be more worth­while to phrase a dif­fer­ent re­ply, to show a lit­tle more love and be thank­ful for the time you’ve got be­cause life is too short, friends. Go with grace.

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