Today I watched a video and read an article that had a profound effect on me. The video is a tribute from a BASE jumper to a close friend who he saw die. The surviving BASE jumper, Matt, is reading a beautiful letter that he wrote to his best friend Ian. The letter was to be opened in the event of Matt’s death, but Ian went first. My description doesn’t begin to do the video justice, so just watch it here.
The video implanted the idea into my head about writing these letters, and sending them (with the intention of them being opened) before you pass. I began to see if anyone else had written about this, and I found the article I mentioned in the opening of this post, which can be found here. Be warned, it’s very heavy.
When I had finished reading the article, I sat in silence staring at the page. We get so caught up in our day to day lives that it’s easy to forget what’s really important. We lose sight of the bigger picture. The father in the article is writing from the vantage point of a death bed. There, the bickering and squabbles of the past melt away until all that’s left are the things that matter.
This got me thinking. There’s so much that I’d like to say to the people who mean the most to me, but it’s just too difficult. Does this mean I should wait until I’m on my (or their) deathbed until it’s shared?
My mother had a very aggressive form of cancer, and was in and out (but mostly in) hospital for 20 months. The worst period was from when I was aged 10 until around the time when I was 12. She pulled through, and made a strong recovery, with the occasional hospital visit several times a year. She was there for my birthdays, parent teacher meetings and general hanging out, until she wasn’t. She hugged me goodbye on a Sunday, saying that she’ll be in hospital for a few days, and the next day she was gone.
The roundabout point I’m trying to get to is that there’s so much I wish I could have said. She died in a period when I was being a shitty teenager. We argued relentlessly, and in retrospect, the arguments were always triggered by me being difficult. She loved me so much, and (I believe) knew that I loved her, but I never had the opportunity to explicitly spill my heart to her. I assumed she’d always be around, and this is something I’ll always regret.
It’s not a mistake I want to make again, so here’s my challenge to myself. I’m going to write these ‘deathbed letters’, and send them. I’m going to say all the things that should be said so the feeling can be enjoyed while both I and the recipient have the opportunity to do so, together.