Don’t Leave Anything on the Table!
From time to time, I skim back over my blog to sort of get a feel of the direction I am heading with this thing. I don’t really have a goal in mind when I write. Many times, something just pops in my head during Mass on Sunday, and I begin to formulate how I want to approach the subject, and away I go. I don’t have an audience in mind, other than God. It really makes no difference to me if anyone even reads my post. My blog is just a way of formally praying to God. Many times, I have two pages typed out, and I sit back and wonder how I wrote that so quickly. While I greatly appreciate receiving feedback from someone saying they enjoyed something I wrote, I am more interested in pleasing God. I want Him to know that I put in the time thinking about Him, and how important He is in my life.
Anyway, that was a pretty long winded way to get to my second point; and that is…I seem to talk a great deal about death, and how difficult life can be. I don’t think that I have a morbid outlook on things…but I do think that it is important to face our own mortality head on. It is something each one of us will face…there is no escaping; none of us get out of this world alive.
A decade ago, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I will forever remember that day as the doctor explained to my mom that her life was coming to an end. My brother and I sat there in stunned silence.
Looking back on that day, and the days that followed, I realize how much unfinished business my mom and I left on the table. Don’t get me wrong, I had a very loving relationship with my mother. It wasn’t like we had a bunch of horrible things to hash out. No, it wasn’t anything like that.
We spent the next 11 months skirting around the elephant in the room. We both pretended, that if we didn’t talk about death, perhaps death would visit someone else’s doorstep. So much wasted time! My, but how I wished I had that time back!
I wish I would have told her how much I loved her. Oh, I did tell her that I loved her, but in that superficial way we all do…you know, the quick, “I love you…I love you too!” That kind of “I love you”. Not the kind where you look someone straight in the eye; and the other person knows to the core of their very soul that you love them.
I wish I would have told her how much I appreciated all the things she and my dad did for me. Instead we spent her last days marking time, talking about the weather, talking about friends who had stopped by. Don’t get me wrong, not every minute needs to be some deep philosophical discussion…but the point is, we never got around to the important stuff!
You know what is great about life? It’s that you can learn from your mistakes. Just because you did something one way in a situation doesn’t mean that you are doomed to do it that way forever.
In honor of my mother, I vowed that I wouldn’t leave anything on the table anymore. If I loved someone, they were going to know it. If someone had been, or was important in my life…I was going to tell them! If I thought there was something that would make my children’s life easier, and more successful…I would communicate that to them!
I wrote to all my mentors and let them know how important having them in my life had been. I vowed that I wouldn’t stand beside their coffin and tell their children how important their father had been in my life. No, I would tell them myself. I would tell them while they were still alive!
I was shocked at the response those letters generated…at least, until I really thought about it. Do you know how rare it is that we tell someone how important they are...that their life made a difference? People spend a lifetime being a blessing to someone, and most times their generosity goes unacknowledged. They go to their grave and the person they helped ends up having to tell their loved ones how important they were.
I had children call me up and tell me that their father had read my letter to them. They told me how their father had read it with tears streaming down his checks, and how they had cried too. I received cards with notes in them telling me how much my letter meant to them.
If you have important people in your life…tell them they are important!
It’s not about how many flat screens you are able to have hanging off your walls; it is how many people you can make smile with a kind word, or a thoughtful gesture.
Next, I wrote a “book” to my wife and my children telling them EVERYTHING I wanted them to know about my time with them. It took me two years to write, but I said everything in that book that I thought was important to live a rewarding and faith-filled life. I could get run over by a bus tonight, and you know what…I didn’t leave anything on the table!
While life is about living, it is also about preparing to die. As scripture says, we know not the time, or the hour. If you have fences to mend, people you need to reconcile with, or just telling someone that you love them and that they are important in your life-don’t put it off, don’t leave it unsaid. Almost everyone with any type of inheritance will execute a will, yet the most important gift we can leave our family, the gift of love…many times we leave it unsaid. If you love someone, and they are important in your life, go ahead and tell them. Don’t leave it on the table.
This is a reposting of a post I wrote two years ago. I though I would share it again as a companion piece to several recent posts I have written regarding properly preparing for the holidays, and keeping in mind what is truely important. Merry Christmas!