The message came across my phone in the middle of a quiet, snowy afternoon. It came from my friend Lori. She and I have known each other for 10 years, this year. We have had dramatic ups and downs in our relationship including a two year hiatus during which we missed each other desperately but were too stubborn to make up. Lori and I frequently exchange energetic and highly emotional text messages so my initial reaction to this one was, "oh god, what kind of crazy shit is she doing now?"
And then my stomach sank. Something didn't feel right.
I responded quickly and she came back almost as fast with, "Sitting on 44. Waiting for police to come. In fast lane watching traffic come at me."
Overwhelmed and on the brink of tears, I called her. No answer. I called another friend, hoping she had heard something. No answer. I texted Lori again to tell her I was getting dressed and would be on my way. Where? I had no idea. And what I was going to do when I got there didn't matter. I just needed to go. But before I could leave the house, Lori called. The police had arrived and she was safe.
Lori's car had spun out, hit a median and landed facing oncoming traffic in the fast lane. Cars and trucks sped toward her while she watched and waited for something to happen.
I can't imagine how she felt in that moment but I can still feel the rush of emotion that I felt hearing what she was going through. My heart pounded and I cried at the thought of losing my friend. And I count myself lucky to have received that message from her, just in case.
Too often, it takes a brush with death or some other life altering experience to get us to the point where we can say what we need to say to the people around us. And in reality, we are being given daily opportunities to do so. There are reminders all around us of how short life is and how quickly it can change. We receive constant messages telling us to just whole-heartedly say I LOVE YOU to the ones who need to hear it and I'M SORRY to those we need to say it to.
Maybe what we need to say is I QUIT or I TRIED BUT I JUST CAN'T or simply, NO. Maybe it's I REALLY LIKE YOU that is yearning to burst forth or I'M NOT THE ONE FOR YOU. How about I'M SO PROUD OF YOU, YOU LOOK GREAT IN THAT DRESS, I'VE ALWAYS ADMIRED YOU or I'M JUST GLAD TO HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE?
Last year when the "Bucket List" starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson came out, John Mayer wrote a song for it. It's called "Say What You Need to Say." The lyrics are redundant but the tune is catchy and somewhat calming. It causes this sentimental feeling to bubble up inside me. But there's one phrase that I think sums it all up for us (other than the chorus). It says:
"Have no fear for givin' in
Have no fear for givin' over
You better know that in the end
It's better to say to much
Then to never say what you need to say again."
Don't wait until you're watching your life flash before your eyes or until your on the receiving end of a last phone call to say what you need to say.