I woke up one morning in late October to the tune of my alarm vibrating next to my ear, reminding me to browse my notifications. After quickly scrolling through my social media feeds and swiping left on emails, my usual routine, I opened the one message someone would never want to see: a goodbye message from my best friend.
I had to do a double-take to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but it was real. At 3:48 a.m., my best friend was suddenly transported to the emergency room for something unknown.
It was a medical emergency that he didn’t expect would happen, especially at the time it transpired. But he took the time to send what could’ve been his final message to me.
In it, he thanked me for every memory we had together and said he loved me for being a brother to him. That’s when it hit me: we tend to postpone our gratitude for each other until it’s too late.
This realization for me to be a better human came at the perfect time. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, the capitalistic foundation we are forced to endure will spread messages about thanking each other and reflecting on what we’re grateful for. That’s fine, but we shouldn’t wait until Thanksgiving because life unfolds in unforeseen ways.
My friend is OK now, but I realized there was a strong chance he would never see my message about how I truly appreciate the impact he has had on my life. He never knew the extent of my gratitude.
I believe the saying “they only care when you’re gone” to be true, especially when I see people post on social media about losing someone. But I didn’t know how strong it was until that personal moment. I cared, but I just never showed it. And that extends to every deep relationship I have.
After that, I put my feelings to use and started crafting personalized messages to the people I care about because life is too short. And we don’t know how short until the clock starts ticking.
All these Thanksgiving messages that have been coming my way ever since the calendar turned pages frustrates me. We have been programmed to use the month of November as a way to share generic thank you’s and appreciation messages, whether it’s for fellow humans or materialistic objects we are fortunate to have.
The messages are not something that come from the heart, because it becomes more of an obligation rather than a soulful act.
My workplace is putting together a “Wall of Gratitude” this month and wrote in an email: “November is a month that provides many opportunities to reflect what we are thankful for and to give back to communities.”
No. There are opportunities every day to communicate appreciation and thanks to people that have impacted us, not just this one month out of the year.
If you truly appreciate someone, no matter on what level, or want to recognize their work, don’t wait to do so. You never know what tomorrow, or the next minute, may bring. You’ll never know how serious and meaningful that statement is until you look death in the eye.