L-O-V-E. Four simple letters that change everything. Love, a word that should always be the first thing said and the last. Anyone who has ever lost someone suddenly knows this. Love and saying, “I love you,“are words to live by.  You hear it, you may think it, but do you actually say it? Life is so short and changes in the blink of an eye and last week we blinked and it changed.

First, was a call that a friend had died unexpectedly. We had seen him two weeks before, told him what he meant to us but had no idea it would be our last hug and in a blink he was gone. Two days later, another 49 year old friend shared that he has 3 months to live and is dying from cancer. The reaction was swift and immediate, hugs, tears and I love yous.  The words didn’t take the pain away and the blows felt like a one two punch, almost too much to process within such a short period of time.  The reality of how fragile our lives truly are came crashing down in a way that just makes everything else seem trivial and irrelevant.

As I watched the evening news that night, still trying to process our loss and find something better to focus on, I saw that a Southwest Jet lost an engine. What struck me wasn’t the pending panic or fear but rather all passengers scrambling to connect with loved ones to make sure they said I love you one last time. Had they started their day with it? Did they say I love you before they got on that flight? Did everyone they care about know how they felt? My sense was no because each of them appeared to try and say it, just one last time.

Fifteen years ago, when I discovered that my mom had died tragically and unexpectedly, one of my first thoughts was,”Did I remember to tell her I loved her before she left for her trip? Was I love you my last word?” I replayed the tape of our last time together over and over until my godmother confirmed that, yes, I had said it. I had a witness and somehow, the pain subsided.

Since that moment, our family doesn’t end a call or leave the house, no matter the rush…without saying , I love you. Angry, late, grumpy we say it. It is a gift and one that I have only recently realized, in light of last week.  Life is precious. It is short. We have so little time and yet somehow, we miss the important stuff. If I died tomorrow, everyone in my life knows that I love them because love is always the last word.

L-O-V-E. Four simple letters that change everything.


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