Say it now.
My younger sister Olivia, my dad, and I all went out for dinner in New York City.
I live in Hawaii (mostly) these days. Miss O is based in Colorado. Dad’s in California. It’s unusual that we’re together in the same location. I wanted to make the most of this rare, precious moment.
And so, we ordered whiskey and crusty bread and garlicky Brussels sprouts. Dad regaled us with stories about his favorite opera composers and their unbelievably scandalous lives. Olivia described her new apartment, which she can’t wait to move into, her favorite grad school courses, her hopes for the future.
I listened to my dad’s stories. I nodded when my sister spoke. I smiled when it was appropriate to smile. I politely thanked the waiter for each item. But, to be honest, I wasn’t completely in the room. My mind was only halfway present.
I was ruminating on…other things. Mainly, the heartbreak I experienced last year, which still hangs heavily over my body like a lead blanket of grief. Also, the deadlines looming. The new emails (that I haven’t answered yet) inquiring about the old emails (that I also haven’t answered yet). An internal clanging of loss and sorrow and unfinished to-do lists and self-created pressure.
While collecting our coats at the exit, the restaurant hostess smiled at me and said, “It’s wonderful that you got to have dinner with your dad tonight.”
“Yeah, uh huh, for sure,” I said, or something to that effect. Only half-listening. In a thick fog. Rummaging around in my bag for a stick of gum.
“My dad died last year,” the hostess added, very quietly. Her voice was so soft, nearly drowned out by the din of the bustling restaurant. “I miss him every day.”
I looked up, meeting her eyes. “I’m so sorry.”
I stepped outside and immediately linked elbows with my dad, holding him very, very close as we walked arm in arm back to the hotel.
Sometimes, I fall asleep in the middle of my own life. Until something, or someone, reminds me to wake up. Because all of this is temporary.
My friend Sherry once said to me, “I’ve often wondered, why do we wait until someone’s funeral to say how much we love them, how much we appreciate them, all the reasons why we adore them? Why don’t we say it now, to their face, while they’re alive? Why do we always wait until it’s too late?”
It’s a very good question.
. . .
If there’s something you want to do, do it now.
If there’s something you want to say, say it now.
If you’re reading this on a phone in your bed, put down your device and hold your partner instead.
The emails can wait.
One day, all of this ends.
But for now, here we are.
And today is not over yet.