When You Need It Most
We often tell people around us that we love them. Usually as they walk out the door for a trip to the grocery store or sometimes when they are going out of town or leaving after a visit. We mean it sincerely, but in the back of our minds we do it for selfish reasons. We want to be relieved of any self-imposed guilt should something bad happen to that person—we want to know that our last words to them were words of love. This is a beautiful thing that we do. It’s wise and it means that we value our lives and our loved ones.
Now let’s flip this around and look at it another way. What if something fatal didn’t befall the one walking out the door? What if it happened to us—the ones standing in the door? What if that last “I love you” isn’t for your own self, but becomes what remains for who you’ve left behind? If that’s all they are going to have left, it needs to be a little heftier.
I am not suggesting embarrassing in-the-doorway “Gone With The Wind” goodbye scenes every time your loved one heads to the screen door. I recommend a less urgent approach. Tell everyone around you what they mean to you all the time. Look them in the eyes when they least expect it and explain how they make you feel. Be intentional about it. Be sincere. Get comfortable with it. Touch them when you say it.
I am mid-western. We can be stoic and super shy, so I’m not even sure how great I am at this. But I know that Pete was. He was wide open. Full of love, not just for me, but for his family, and his friends and his fans. If he felt it he shared it. You walked away from him feeling loved, if he loved you. In fact, Pete and my daughter Sean exchanged “I love yous” when she last saw him a week before he died. They looked each other in the eye and they meant it. It wasn’t a glancing blow. She has that memory and it’s there for her whenever she needs it.
So now, I can look at myself every day in the mirror and even when I am full of self-critiques I do know for sure that I was deeply loved by my husband. No doubt. No questions. It is a huge gift that he left me. I was able to revel bask in it when he was alive and I’m able to revel in it now that he’s gone. It’s a tape loop in my mind that I can access anytime, and when I’m at my saddest it can even make me smile to myself.