If you had only one thing left to say, what would it be?
Nine years ago as I watched the events of 9/11 unfold, the answer came as an epiphany.
Mark Bingham was a passenger on United Flight 93, a hijacked airplane apparently headed for the White House on 9/11. He and a group of passengers tried to overpower the hijackers. His mother, Alice Hoglan recalls what he said in his phone call to her: "I want you to know I love you very much, and I'm calling you from the plane. We've been taken over. There are three men who say they've got a bomb."
Fifteen minutes later, Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing 40 crew members and passengers.
Moisas Rivas was a cook at Windows of the World, on the top floor of the World Trade Center. His stepdaughter, Linda, received a call from him at 9:02 a.m. on 9/11, and later gave her mother a message from Moisas: "Yes, Mommy, he said not to worry. He's OK, Mommy, not to worry. He's OK. Mommy -- he say, he love you -- no matter what happen, he love you."
What struck me about these messages--about all of the messages I heard and read--was that the one thing they wanted their loved ones to know was how much they loved them.
In what they believed would be the last minutes of their lives, what they needed to say above anything else was, "I love YOU."
How profound to consider that in those terrifying moments, when I expected a person would need to be comforted and loved, instead, they needed to express love--to have that be their lasting legacy.
Is it a primal need then, to show love? Perhaps we should live each day that way. We may not have that last chance to express it.