Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Last Words

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?



Garret said...

I have to commend you for even reliving that whole horror and even for seeing a different angle of it all. As I sat in a McDonald's, I couldn't even *listen* to names being announced on TV while I ate my McBagel without getting a crackling voice when I spoke to Jim. I never ate so fast to get out of there.

Alison said...

Dunno if you're living it in your daily life, but it sounds like you are on your blog. I know what you mean about "I love you" not being enough, though.

And I have never been able to listen to any of those messages. I even had to turn off the reading of the names on Sunday. In some ways it's more raw now than 10 years ago. And I didn't even lose anybody!

Ashli said...

Ok. So wierd analogy, but it came to mind so I had to comment it. Think of a sporting event where the final second shot wins the game. The final second shot is what is broadcast and replayed over and over and over. It is short and sweet and puts a pinnacle on the end of the event. The game, though, could not have come to a final decision if not for the effort put into the first 99% of the game. The effort is the gravy, it is what people start to look to when they want to know more about the win. If they want to know you deeper they will ask about what you did in your life to make those final words so impactful. In all of that, I am saying that "I love you" is the last minute shot to a game played with the valuable effort, blood, sweat and tears of life.

Random I know...I am just in that mood today. Play on!

Anonymous said...

I saw one where a husband made a phone call to his wife and he knew the end was near for him. He said his "I love you's"...and then he told her that he wanted her to be happy and do what makes her happy and fulfilled. He was giving his blessing for her to find love again--and she did. I thought that was something incredibly selfless and meaningful--she was able to give herself permission to love and be happy again, because that is what her husband wanted for her.

Katherine said...

Thanks for the reminder that I should live my "final words" for my family every day.

Karen M. Peterson said...

This is something I've thought a lot about since 9/11, too. I can't imagine talking to someone and knowing it will be the last time I talk to them, but I can't imagine not getting the chance to talk that one last time either.

Eternal Lizdom said...

Ashli! I love that! The last sentence really sums it up... Great analogy!

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

This is lovely and true and I know I'm going to spend the whole rest of the day thinking about it. I hope that if my sons will always hear all of that in my "I love you"s. Well said!

Shell said...

I got chills reading this.

I didn't get a chance to see that special. I imagine it was incredibly powerful.

sometimes I do think about what someone's last memories would be of me if I were to die unexpectedly(maybe a little morbid here....) But, you know- if I were in a car crash after dropping my boys off at school- would their last memories be of me yelling b/c one of them forgot their lunch box or would it be that I gave them a kiss and said I love you. That sort of thing.

Kristen said...

I remember once Ray and I had this huge fight (as if this only happened once) before he went somewhere and I went my separate way. I was so overwhelmed with this feeling of .. fear - about my last words - that I called him to say, "I love you." He, of course, thought I was nuts.

Anyway - I would love to imprint your words into my brain forever.

Kristen @