THE LAST TIME
“What did you just say?” the husband cried outloud, “I just talked to him yesterday.”
“He had an accident this morning and passed away!” the wife replied.
“I told him to come to our home for a dinner this weekend, but now…”
“Let’s go there for vacation next year.” The girl planned.
But this plan had to be cancelled since he left this world.
She lies there with no sign of consciousness after the stroke. He stands beside her with pain in his heart. She would desire to go to see a movie with him in the cinema downtown where they had had many lovely memories together. But he was just following his professional ambition, keeping saying to her “next time”. Now, he is with grave regret but without any chance.
Three days ago, Tubo got really angry: “Damn it! If I hadn’t controled myself, I would have beaten him.”
Three days later, Tubo cries with tears running down his cheeks: “Why did you go before me? How can I live in this world without you? Why?”
Tubo only cries and cries now, not remembering anything about the quarrel three days ago. Ultimately, to be wise is to carve good memories on stone and let the wind blow away the dusts of conflict and dissatisfaction?!
Doctors say her life is now in a “vegetable state”, meaning she lies there breathing, living and maybe feeling, but not being able to speak anymore. Before discovered being unconscious and taken to the ICU, she wanted to say that she understood his suffering heart, she loved him dearly and she was happy to have him in this life. But now she is lying there while he is standing in silence looking at her, suffering. If she had been a little more generous that day to tell him those words, he (and she also) would be at peace now.
“Hello auntie. Not long ago, I heard that your husband was sick, but I was too busy to make a call. How is he doing now?”
“Thank you for asking. Your uncle-in-law passed away too weeks ago….”
Actually, he could have made several phone calls, if only he had not been too… lazy.
“I saw that girl using my cellphone. You’re damn unfaithful. I don’t wanna hear anymore! Bye.”
She walked away in anger. He helplessly stood there watching her leave. He wanted to call her back but he felt speechless. From then on, she never received any news from him.
A few weeks later, one of her friends, not knowing their relationship, innocently told her: “I feel bad for P. Though being a strong man, he wept like a girl when telling me his story. You know, before Valentine this year, he had to sell his cellphone, the only valuable possession he had, to a friend in order to have some money to buy medications for his seriously sick mother in the country. Unfortunately, that cellphone was a gift from his girlfriend. Poor and unemployed, he didn’t know how to manage the situation. Poor man! I wonder where he is now.”
Any encounter can be the last time.
At that ‘possible’ last time, we have two clear options: to leave a good impression of love on someone or to lose that opportunity and then regret about it.
Actually, anger, criticism, complaint, or negativity, … does not do anyone any good.
This may be one of the last times I write to you. Therefore, please allow me to join you in making ourselves more attentive to a ‘possible last time’ and so fully prepare ourselves for the ‘actual last time’. You are lovingly invited to reflect on the following questions:
+ When was the last time I showed my regards to a loved one?
+ When was the last time I overcome my self-pity to keep a loving harmony?
+ How long ago did I take advantage of my meeting with someone to express my care for that person?
+ When was the last time I stepped out of my prejudice to only listen to and appreciate others “as they really are”?
+ When was the last time I was patient enough to give others a chance to explain their whole story?
+ When was the last time I gave myself a chance to simply listen without quickly jumping to a conclusion?
+ When was the last time I firmly stood in the love of God present in my heart to overcome the temptation to fight against others?
+ When was the last time I learned how to truly accept other brothers and sisters with sympathy?
+ In my encounter with someone today, did I leave a loving impression on him or her?
Our Master Jesus gives practical advice: “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” (Mk 13:33, Mt 24:42)
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.