If counted, my regrets would number in the thousands. In fact, if my life were a football game, it would be a crushing defeat caused by a flurry of bad calls and missed catches. But these errors are mostly related to the words I haven’t said, embraces I haven’t given, phone calls I haven’t made, and letters I haven’t sent.
We all do it–we hold back–because we’re tied up. We’re tongue tied when the time is right to speak. We figuratively tie our hands behind our backs when it’s really appropriate to grab the hand of another. We tie ropes around our necks and wait to hang on the noose of the past when simply living in the present can free us. We’re tied to jobs, love lives, social lives, and personal lives that keep us so preoccupied that we don’t have the time/energy/desire to do one thing, the most important thing: express our love.
And you never know when it might be too late to do so.
Today I’ll be attending the funeral of someone I loved dearly. And by”dearly,” I mean she was, at one time, like a second mother, an older sister, and a best friend to me. She had a daughter whose presence in my life is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. And as generous as she was, there is a prevailing sentiment among those that loved her most: Maybe we didn’t pick up the phone often enough to tell her how much we loved her. Maybe we didn’t try hard enough. Maybe we didn’t write enough GODDAMNED LETTERS TELLING HER SHE WAS GOOD ENOUGH.
But regret in the wake of someone’s death is all relative. Her reality was likely very different; she very well knew how much she was loved. But I will always have a nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, she didn’t know, and that I may have missed the opportunity to tell her.
Now I’m going to ask a favor. I won’t insist on holding your own personal gratitude campaign (don’t worry, you can still inform your friends what you’re thankful for every day of the month via Facebook, if that’s more your style). But if you’re reading this, I beg you: Untie yourself. For just a little while, break free from housework, homework, yardwork (or whatever other mundane activity you’re engaged in right now), and make a phone call. If that’s too difficult, compose a letter. Hell, write it in the sand if you have to–just tell someone “I love you”. Because even if they know how you feel, it never hurts to hear those words. You never know when my loss might become your own.
I’ve made my share of mistakes. But I’ll tell you one thing I’ll never regret: saying “I love you.” Even when the sentiment was not returned. Even when the timing wasn’t right. Even when the ensuing heartbreak was so devastating it felt like my words were daggers that turned inward and punished me with pain in return for my honesty.
But I won’t regret them. Because once the words become so real that you feel you can reach inside your chest and grab them, tying up “I love you” is simply not an option. The only proper thing to do is to make it known. Because love, when expressed, is never lost, even though we might be.