Publishing lost a good man on Sunday. No, more to the point, the world lost a good man. Ron Benrey–author, publisher, one-time agent, master debater, theologian, teacher, and a wonderful husband and father, a man possessed of deep kindness and wisdom–passed from this world to God’s side on Sunday. Just moments before the heart attack that ushered him into eternity, he was doing something he dearly loved: boating. I had to smile when I realized that Ron went from joy to joy.
Just last week I was talking with a group of friends about funerals, and about what a good idea it is to plan your funeral ahead of time. I shared that I’d done so years ago, when I started traveling so much. I wanted to make things as easy as possible for my family should something happen to me. I also wrote letters to my family and friends, telling them what they meant to me and how much I was blessed by them. I wanted the last words they heard from me to be words of love and appreciation.
Today, on a number of email loops, I read those kinds of words about Ron. Words filled with sadness, but also with a recognition of how special Ron was. And I wondered, as I’ve done many times, why is it that we too often don’t talk or write about how much someone means to us until after they’re gone? The Bible study my husband and I attended for 20 years did something about that. Twice a year, at our retreats, we did what we called “Living Eulogies.” We formed a circle, and each person took a turn in the center of the circle, while the rest of us told them how much we cared about them and what was special about them. Even now, years later, I remember those words of appreciate and love.
So what does all of this rambling have to do with you? Well, it got me to thinking about the importance of our words in the lives of those around us. We writers spend day after day immersed in words—on the page or computer screen. But are we letting the gift of words that God has given us reach out to bless those around us? Especially those closest to us? How often do we tell those we love how blessed we are by them? When’s the last time you told your spouse or kids or parents what you enjoy about them or what makes them special in your heart?
Friends, we all need to know we’re cherished. We need to know we’ve touched someone’s life. We need to know those last words, those things people usually only say after someone dies, now. Today. Stop what you’re doing, go look a loved one in the eyes, and share the words they need to hear. Make those “last words” into the first words you speak each day. Words of love and appreciation, words to build up and encourage. Don’t wait another moment. Because we have no idea how many moments we—or anyone—have left.
You’ll be a blessing, friends. And you’ll be blessed as well.