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Just Say It

Words. We use them every day. I’m using them now. “Duh.” You say. But as this week begins with Memorial Day, and as last words; parting phrases and final memories are in the spotlight, there’s no better time than this to consider them.

Memorial Day is a time to remember our fallen heroes—those who have served our country. We salute them—and rightly so. They have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. This past week also brought with it observations of deployment of friends and memories of family members. Sit tight..the correlation and semantics part is about to make sense….

As we think about those who have fallen and those marching off to war, you may wonder if all of those men and women had the opportunity to say goodbye; to resolve unfinished business with friends and family members. And what of those left behind? Is there guilt over not having the opportunity to apologize for a wrong or resolve unfinished business or make peace with what could be any possible issue?

Life is tenuous on a good day let alone for the full amount of years a human is capable of living. What do we remember? We have experiences, photos, idiosyncrasies; but often, the last thing we have are words. What was said. “Any last words?” "Famous last words..." “I wish I would have told him/her…” Insert whatever you wish in this vein.

Words can make the difference between guilt, regret or peace and comfort; change a life; live in infamy or in honor. They can seem like the hardest slap in the face or the world’s most perfect kiss. They can often be the only way some people can express the true depth of feeling…and we have limited time to use them wisely.

As I watched a deployment this week, I was struck by how those left behind lamented the things they should have said and prayed that a text would reach that soldier before he hit the battlefield--because they wanted him to know; because those words would aid in making the mission easier for him; because they needed to be said for the sake of both parties involved; because when that soldier hears those words whether spoken or on paper, it will hopefully make him stronger and feel more secure in a stressful and potentially dangerous situation. I watched as both age and infirmity began taking their toll on a civilian, and he offered verbal thoughts to resolve past conflicts; I watched those with memories of loved ones passed lament words spoken in what was simple adolescent angst at the time uttered—yet those words live on, taking their unresolved emotional toll. I watched an individual trying to make sense of the silence of someone important in their life try blindly, and to no avail, to decipher it—in this case the lack of words causing confusion and pain. I watched a child’s face light up as they were reassured of a parents’ love for them.

So as you read my words here on paper, I ask that you consider yours. They have great power. Just say it—because one day it may be too late--and we never know when that day will be. Life is finite, but often the words linger on and in doing so can make all the difference.