When someone matters to you, tell them.
A note in my inbox was the first news I had of the sudden death of an acquaintance. We weren’t that close, but I enjoyed chatting with him; we talked about sailing and the Grateful Dead music. I didn’t really know him that well.
I went outside to reflect on my relationship with him. I remembered I had told him things I liked about him, as well as things I didn’t. I had happy memories of our conversations. I paid my final respects, said my goodbyes, reflected on my own mortality and went on with my day.
Everyone else seemed to be really shocked, even though they knew him even less than I did. They were all talking about this guy—the good things about him, the sadness of losing him, and how great a person he had been. Emails started circulating, listing his achievements and good deeds.
Strangely, I felt sadder to witness these reactions than I was about his death itself. While he was alive, I don’t think anyone told him how much he was appreciated, or how important he was to them. Now, faced with his death, everyone was paying tribute to this “great man,” and he wasn’t even there to hear it.
Why is that we only properly celebrate people after they have died?
Death is sudden. A heartbeat away, but life is even closer. I was very young when I first encountered the awareness of mortality; everyone is a sand timer—grains slipping away, who knows how few are left…
And this thought makes me smile because life is here to celebrate. Enjoy what’s in your hands, without worrying how much or little you may have left to go. Plans for the future should be made with anticipation in the heart. Hope, not fear.
I think we should make a conscience effort to start telling people who really matter to us what we think of them, right now.
Let’s let them know how much we appreciate them, love them and think they’re great.
In fact, I’ll start by telling you, my dear reader! It’s true. You matter a lot to me, and I really appreciate and celebrate you.
Editor: Brianna Bemel