According to Ira Byock, the four things we say before we die or to someone we love who is going to die: Thank you. I love you. Forgive me. I forgive you.
For everything you’ve done and do for me. For the light you shed in the world. For the influence you have on those around you. For the person you have been and will always be. For memories and dreams.
I love you
The kind of love you feel so much that it can’t be expressed. A love only two people who have shared it can understand. Love that can’t be altered by time and circumstances. Deep, lasting, caring, believing love. I love everything about you.
I’m not perfect and I know I never will be. I’ve failed you at times. Fell down on the job. Forgot to cook dinner. Didn’t give you my best. Refused to listen to what you were actually saying. Mixed up my priorities. Spent one too many nights in the office. Failed to give you everything you deserved. Forgive me for being insufficient, but remember that I’ll never stop trying.
I forgive you
It doesn’t matter. Those things that happened seemed so important at the time, but in the end all I’ve ever cared about is being close to you. I’m letting go of the grudges and the scoreboard. I want you to know the joy you’ve brought into my life is so much more than whatever small offenses happened along the way. I forgive you for everything and anything that seems like it might have made me upset, sad, angry, or annoyed.
Thank you. I love you. Forgive me. I forgive you. Four short phrases that people want to say to one another before they or you die.
If these are, presumably, the most important things we can say to one another… why wait?
Hat tip to NPR’s TED Radio Hour on Listening from June 5th, 2015, Dave Isay, and Ira Byock for the inspiration for this post.