by Joanie Butman
As most of you know from last week’s post, my mother-in-law passed away at the end of July. In the days and weeks that followed, the saddest part was listening to the laments over sentiments not shared with Elinor while her mind was still clear enough to understand and appreciate them. Even at her advanced age of 98, people tend to live under the delusion that there will always be more time. My father-in-law commented that he felt ‘cheated’ because she was taken too soon. Keep in mind, they just celebrated their 74th wedding anniversary, which is longer than some people live! I thought it was a beautiful testament to their enduring love story.
Regardless, hearing people voice their regrets reminded me that of the countless stupid comments and angry words I’ve uttered in my life, it is the ones left unsaid that sometimes can be the most damaging and the ones I regret the most. Too often the person to whom I wanted to express them isn’t in my life anymore, so those sentiments are lost forever – a wasted opportunity to encourage, affirm, apologize, forgive, or convey love. I’ve never known anyone who bemoaned offering a kind word, an apology, forgiveness or affection. Even if it’s out of your comfort zone or when it costs you dearly, choosing to offer affirmation is a gift that will last long after you’re gone. Elinor’s legacy of love is a perfect example. Of her abundant admirable qualities, always having a kind word for everyone had to be one of her most endearing.
With the services over, our extended family members will scatter to their respective homes to resume their own lives. I believe they leave full of renewed appreciation for the opportunities to share so many memorable moments with the family at Elinor’s beloved beach cottage, and with a poignant reminder to never wait to let someone know what they mean to you.
Whether your 98 or 28, no one knows what tomorrow will bring. The best way I can honor Elinor is to choose today, and every day, to tell my own family and friends how much I love them and how blessed and grateful I feel to have them in my life.