On Texting Goodbye

Ever since the tragic Oakland warehouse fire, stories have been popping up all over the news about the victims’ final moments. I can’t even fathom the feelings of confusion, terror, and panic that those individuals must have been experiencing. But a recent story on CNN has got me thinking more and more about how I would react if found in a life-or-death situation like the warehouse fire. More specifically, would I reach out to my loved ones in a final desperate attempt to let them know what may come and how I feel?

What ultimately helped me come to my final conclusion was imagining myself being on the receiving end of that text message or phone call. Seeing the words “I’m going to die” burn on my screen, and knowing there is absolutely nothing I can do, would haunt me for the rest of my life. How do I even begin to respond to that? And what if I don’t respond in-time? Or what if I miss a phone call and the opportunity to hear my loved ones voice one last time? I physically and mentally don’t think I have the strength to handle that.

Some of the victim’s text messages to family simply said “I love you.” While this seems much less traumatic, the idea of getting that message, only to find out hours/minutes/days later that the very same person who sent it has died — and realizing that the message is likely the last thing he or she did — is almost unimaginable. And to be honest, I don’t think that the “I love you” would comfort me but rather bring the reality of his or her final moments to the forefront of all my thoughts.

What it comes down to for me is the quality of my relationships — I realize that I am so extremely lucky in all of my relationships. Lucky that I don’t have any broken pasts or prevailing enemies. Lucky that I don’t need to share a deeply-rooted secret desire or longing. And most importantly, lucky that my family and friends already know how much they mean to me, beyond words.

Who really knows how I will act or think or respond in such a time of horror. But what I do know is that, right now, to all my friends, family, relations, and acquaintances — I love you.