I’m grateful when November arrives. Historically, October has been marked by a lot of death for me, which brings grieving, reflecting, reminiscing. Depression over lost experiences and lost loves roll in like a fog, and if I’m not careful, it can consume me. So, instead of focusing what was lost, I choose to think of what was gained by having these people in my life.
Today, I am pondering what I would say to these loved ones if they were still here.
Are there words that have been left unsaid? Actions left undone? Regrets?
In some ways, yes. Not necessarily because I did not have the opportunity to say or do them while they were living, but because I did not know to say them. Time, of which we were robbed, prevented me from understanding it all or seeing it clearly.
But, I see it now…
To my mother, who died when I was a 17 year old know-it-all, I would say, “Thank you and I’m sorry.”
I didn’t know at the time that her strictness was protection, as she knew the temptations that lurked around every corner.
I did not understand that her “No’s” were not because she hated me and wanted to ruin my life or my fun, but because she loved me and wanted to save my life so that I could enjoy it for years to come.
I did not see the sacrifices she made to stay home with us, as I lamented not being able to buy all the things I wanted.
I did not understand the pain of mothering that lasts far longer than the initial pushing or the cutting that brings babies into this world.
So Momma, “Thank you. I’m sorry.”
To my youth/young adult pastor I would say, “You were right.”
I remember him telling me that if I was to marry a man committed to Christ and ministry, we would do great things.
He saw my gifts, and heart and encouraged me to go to seminary. I fought it, convinced that people went to seminary to “gain knowledge, but lose God.” Plus, I wanted to make a name for myself, not really bring glory or honor to God.
But, I went. And while the “great things” aren’t quite what I expected them to be, they are what matters – impacting lives for eternity.
I would thank him, because I now realize that just that encouragement to go to school changed the trajectory of my life – it expanded my horizons beyond what I thought possible. I have visited and lived and served in places I never would have considered, meeting people whose paths I never would have crossed. Great things.
He was right.
To my first Dallas pastor, I would sit my children on his knee, grin and say “Look at this.” When I first met him, he didn’t know I wanted to be married, because I didn’t know I wanted to be married – until my heart was broken. He walked me through that time, affirmed me, and kept me actively serving and using my gifts, which reminded me that my worth and value was not bound up in being “chosen”. His marriage was an example to me. His burden to see healthy and thriving African American families became my own. Now, I have one.
Look at this.
And finally, to my grandfathers I would say “The Cubs won!” Both were White Sox fans, but I believe they would have appreciated witnessing history. Having lived to 90 and 102 years old, they experienced a lot. They would have reminisced about Chicago culture, and progress and sports, inevitably ending up talking about Jackie Robinson and Ernie Banks (and done a bit of trash-talking because most of their conversations happened over card games). I have grown to appreciate history because they brought it to life. They lived.
So, for those of you reading, allow me to encourage you.
Are there people you need to say “Thank you or I’m sorry” to? Say it.
Do you need to find someone to say, “You were right, or, look at this?” Find them.
Is there someone you simply need to sit with, celebrate, and talk to because you never know if time will allow the opportunity to do it again? Do it.