On the anniversary of 9/11 each year, I get caught up watching the documentaries and listening to the stories of those who were in the event or who lost loved ones that day. I feel like it's important to know the stories, it's important to share that burden in some way.
This year, I watched "9/11: Phone Calls from the Towers" on YouTube.
Families sharing the last conversations and even the voicemails they received from their sons, daughters, spouses on that morning. People who were trapped and knew that they weren't going to survive. People who were calling with final words to share with their loved ones, with the people most dear to them in the world.
I cried through most of it. I cried for those families. I cried for the people who made those calls.
I cried for myself. Because I started to wonder what it was I would say... who would I call... what would I last want my loved ones to know, to hear from me?
Before 9/11, I don't know how much I ever really thought about it. How much did any of us really think about what those last words should be? Did we ever imagine we would actually have people in a situation where they could contact the outside world and would know they weren't going to live? Did we ever imagine we would have the technology that gives us the ability to know what is happening inside a trauma that the outside world can see as hopeless?
What would I say to my husband? My children? My parents? My brothers? My best friends?
"I love you" doesn't feel like enough.
I think about people who know they are dying and take time to record themselves reading books to their kids, sharing life lessons, final messages to live on after they are gone.
What would I plan to share with the people I love?
But the biggest question of all - Am I living those messages now?
I'm here and I'm alive and I have these wonderful people in my life that I love and cherish. Am I making sure that those people know how much they mean to me? I would want to impart words that inspire and stay with them. I would want them to remember kindness and compassion to each other and to all others. Am I teaching those things to my kids now? Am I modeling that to my friends and family now?
I love you and I know that you love me. I cherish the time I've had with you. Please be kind to each other. Share and show compassion at every opportunity. Explore the world in any way you can. Remember that small choices can have big impacts. And always, always, always know that I love you and value you and cherish you and see the beauty in you and believe in you.
Would I be able to remember all of that? Would saying "I love you" be enough to get all of that across?
What are the better choices I can make today to live my life so that there is never a question that those would be my last words to the people I love?