I have been thinking lately about how short life is, particularly in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre. I have been thinking about the difference a few very important, and probably short, words would have made in the 2.5 hours in between the first and second shootings. Maybe the second shootings wouldnt have happened. Maybe fewer would have died. All it would have taken is a few words from someone. Did the thought just not occur to anyone? When was the last time you thought about saying something about a particular issue or conflict but then figured, ah, maybe someone else will say something, I dont want to make any waves. I always regret when I do that. I think, I should have asked the question or raised the point -- now I have to catch up and I have a bigger problem to solve.
Some times I think about the fact that something might happen to me on my way home, because of some crazy person on the subway or ridiculous train accident. I'm not trying to be morbid or freak anybody out, just realistic. What will be the last words my two daughters will have heard from their mother that day? Was it, "I love you girls."? Was it, "Have a nice day at school and good luck on that math test!"? Think about your last words to your loved ones today. Your last words are surely better than no words, but were they the right words? Were they really meaningful?
My father has Parkinson's. He's hanging in there, but let's be honest, he's looking at death in its face. There is no cure. I think about all the things we've said to each other over the last 45 years, and all the things that we haven't said. My mind has been racing recently, thinking of all the questions I still have time to ask him. Some people dont have that chance because lives sometimes end unexpectedly. Worse yet, some people refuse to let go of conflicts, old arguments and grudges, and they never clear the air. And why? For what purpose? Those missed words are almost like a death in and of themselves. We know that missed words can surely end a life, even several lives, as we have seen.
Words define our lives in ways both great and small.
The next time you think, ah, maybe someone else will say something, I dont want to rock the boat, think again. That next time, it might really count. The truth is, every time counts. Every word counts.