Last night I was standing on my back deck watching the sun make its slow descent over the tops of the evergreens surrounding the house across the road. And I thought to myself, Did Luke know it was his last weekend on the planet Earth? Did he make his way through those last four days stopping every now and again and think – this is my last time partying at Thad’s.. this is my last hangover… this is my last dinner with my mom and dad… this is my last belly laugh with the boys. I don’t know. Part of me takes comfort in the fact that maybe he was living with intention and cherishing all of those moments. Most of me feels that he didn’t. Most of me feels that suicide swallowed him up in an instant that Tuesday morning and caught even him by surprise with its finality.
When you lose someone suddenly, you spend a lot of time reliving those final weeks and days before the death. You want to will that time back and declare a *do over* so that you CAN hang on or change what will come to be final memories. John and I talk about the words we would say – more I love you, less Get up for school. We talk about the things we would do differently – confront the high school, insist Luke go to a therapist, hug him even when he said it was weird. We spend a lot of time wishing for another try at loving our son.
Unfortunately, none of us is born with the ability to know when that “last time” might be. A medium John and I went to visit, Ruthie Larkin, told us the story of a terrible automobile accident she was in while visiting Texas. A transport crossed into oncoming traffic and hit her, shearing the roof right off her car. Ruthie said her only thought in that moment was – “I didn’t know today was going to be the day!” Thankfully she survived, but my point is that as someone who communicates with the great beyond, even SHE doesn’t know when her end is coming. So what are we mere humans to do?
True story. I decided to spend one day imagining it was my last. I was going to relish every single thing I ate or saw or touched and I was going to be present and really live in the moment. Best laid plans. I woke up and did my usual “five things I am grateful for” routine. What if this is the last time I will ever do this? I asked my self. I gave an extra shout out to the Universe – to be safe, lol – and got up. I went downstairs into the kitchen and poured myself a cup of coffee. What if this is the last time I do this? I asked myself. I put the cup up to my nose, inhaled deeply, and vowed to really enjoy this cup. I sat down in the living room in my favorite chair, turned on my WCVB news and as Cindy FItzgibbon started highlighting the weather, I asked…. Actually, I didn’t ask. I decided this whole activity was maybe the dorkiest thing I had ever done, lol, curled up in my chair, and went on with my day. And that is what we humans do.
So here’s what I need you to know: We don’t know when our last moment on the planet Earth might be. And we don’t know when that time might come for any of our loved ones, either. Might I suggest that we live like we do? Remind ourselves every day that each one is a gift? And then, in knowing our time together is precious, that we tell the people we love ,that we love them, OFTEN and LOUDLY. That we don’t go to bed angry or use unkind words against one another. If you knew your child was going to be gone at 17, would it change the way you treated them today? Wouldn’t a whole bunch of those daily battles suddenly become unimportant? Do you really want to argue about how long his hair is? lol Would you say “yes” more? especially to ice cream and sleeping in late? As I sit here on that same back deck watching the sun go down on Year 6, I can tell you… I didn’t know. I didn’t know 17 years was all I was going to get. I didn’t know it was going to be his final weekend. I didn’t know it was the last time I was ever going to hear his voice or hug his big ass or make him freaking nachos. I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I didn’t know. And now there is a lifetime of missing and regret in those three words. I really want things to be different for all of you. Xxx
I love you, John-Luke Inwood. From here to the other side of the stars. Xxx