I’ve been breathing into a paper bag over that 78 year-old guy that came kicking and screaming out of his own body bag at the morgue. I mean seriously—I think this is possibly my worst nightmare come to life. Except that in my nightmare I’ve pulled more of an Ashley Judd in Double Jeopardy and someone’s given me a lighter for my coffin and I flick it open and yep…
Not only am I in a coffin. But, I’m in a coffin with another corpse, and all three of us are already in the ground. And, I’ve been saying to my inner demons for years “Oh that kind of stuff never happens” and then wham. Guy in body bag=girl in counseling.
At church on Sunday, a guy in Sunday School brought the body bag guy up, which I felt was a very good transition into part of the pastor’s sermon. In reminiscing about the birth of his son, he made a remark along the lines of “Don’t wait until someone’s dead before you tell them how much they meant to you, because well…they won’t be there to hear it.”
I mean, isn’t this so true? I was thinking this very thing at the last funeral I attended. I folded my tissue square over square and looked around at the size of crowd. The pews were littered with people young and old who told me over and over again what the deceased had meant to them. The crowd was much larger than I ever expected—probably much larger than the woman would have expected. And I kept saying to myself, “I wonder if she really knew how much she meant to all these people?” I hope she did. But, why do we wait to tell people how much we care? That without them we would be a mess? That they are helping us live a better story. That they bring us joy and friendship and that we love doing life with them?
I had someone tell me one time that they knew what was going on with my family because they read my Facebook page. Ironically, this was a very lonely season for me. And I had gone to bed at night saying, “I wish I just had a good friend to process some of this junk with.” And apparently I did have a friend—well, sort of. I mean she was there. Technically, watching my page. But, I didn’t know. Al I knew is that my phone wasn’t ringing.
But, I am just as guilty of this kind of behavior as the next guy. I do this all the time. Check out someone’s Facebook page and feel caught up with their life. Feel like I am participating in their story. But this is wrong—it’s being a bystander. It’s not participating. Is the sports enthusiast watching from the stands a part of the game? No. You can feel a part of the game, but it doesn’t mean that you are. And I think that social media makes it easy for us to feel like we are a part of things. When maybe, we’re not.
We’ve got to quit letting our busyness, our Facebook feeds, our assumptions, our laziness perhaps, stand in the way of telling people that we care. We need to call them and express gratitude. We need to meet them for coffee or catch an afternoon matinee with the people who are special to us. We need to write them a letter. We need to tell them how we feel about them—before our next opportunity to do so—is at their funeral. The one place where a missed opportunity doesn’t get a second chance.