When our kids would ask why my wife and I would always say “I love you” every time we parted, we would tell them: “One day, there will be a last time to say, “I love you.” Only God knows when that last time will be; so, we still hedge our bets, making sure the final words we say affirm our eternal love for one another. How comforting it is to know that “The last time I saw him, he said, “I love you! ‘”
This haunting phrase becomes so important to us when we lose a loved one. Sometimes, recalling someone’s final words brings a smile and a quiet sense of assurance. Of course, this is how most of want to be finally remembered when our time comes.
However, sometimes those words are filled with pain and heartache. In a heated argument words of parting can bring pain years later when neither party seeks reconciliation or attempts to affirm the positive aspects to a relationship. Many times people say hurtful things without restraint due to alcohol or drugs that end up being the last word spoken. While they may not remember what they said, the scars left on the recipient can be a source of pain that outlives the one who did not filter their words or seek forgiveness.
Discussing the concept of developing a mission statement, Steven Covey recommended beginning with the end in mind. To illustrate the principle of “Beginning with the End in Mind,” he suggests that we imagine being in a dream, walking into a funeral home where we recognize the people in the chairs as they quietly wait for the service to begin. Meanwhile, a line of people stand behind the podium, waiting for their opportunity to speak a word about the person in the open casket at the front of the room. As you walk to view the person there to pay your respects, you suddenly realize that the person in the casket is you! Now you have an opportunity to hear what the people who knew you have to say about you. No doubt someone will say, “The last time we met, he/she said these words to me….”
The question is, what will they have to say? The answer is to proactively start working, now, on helping shape their message by your own words and behavior based upon your own principles, values and sensibilities.