This January marks the anniversary of a 2018 event that changed lives. A message was sent to 1.4 million residents in Hawaii, warning that a ballistic missile was headed to Hawaii and that “This is not a drill.”

Residents did not receive any further information for 38 minutes, when they were informed the warning was a mistake.

38 minutes…

38 minutes…

What would you do or say if you knew that you only had 38 minutes left?

Some of the cell phone messages were read during the 38 minutes and they contained words of forgiveness, love, goodbye, heartfelt messages of despair, sadness, fear, and love.

So, my question is, why do we wait until life is over, or we think it might be close, to say the things that need to be said?

Forgive me, I forgive you. Thank you. I love you.

These are the 4 things that will change your life and relationships according to author Ira Byock in the book “The Four Things that Matter Most.” Which I listened to recently. Dr. Byock is a physician who worked with hospice patients at the end of life. He did multiple interviews with families who had lost loved ones. He tells story after story of the communication between family members that made dying a beautiful part of living. You see, he believes that like a birth, the magical tie when a person comes into the world, death can be a calming, gentle end to leaving this world.

In the book, Dr. Byock talks about how it’s never too early to use these words to change your life and your relationships, but it can be too late. For example, he tells a story of a husband who was dying and he had not allowed his new wife and his children from a previous marriage to have much contact. During the time he was in the hospital and in hospice, the wife and children were able to share their feelings and get to know each other. The resentment they had for one another faded. The children were able to see the love their dad had for his wife, and the wife was able to see glimpses of the love of her life in his children.

Both the wife and his children apologized and asked for forgiveness. It made for a beautiful ending to a life that carried some hurt, some unresolved pain.

He shares countless stories of people sharing their hearts during their last moments in this world.

How sharing these words will change your relationships sure, but mostly YOU will be changed.

So this gave me lots to think about. Who would I say thank you to? I’m sorry? Forgive me? I forgive you? As you hear those words, whose face flashes through your mind? Is it a friend? A spouse? A parent? A child?

Here was my first thought.

Thank you to my MOM. I’m sure a lot of people would thank their mom. In fact, I’m not sure I thanked my mom so much until I had teenager daughters. Then I thanked her a LOT. And apologized a LOT. For all the smart alec things I said, the times I argued, disrespected, was just downright mean. If you are a parent, I’m sure you can relate.

She sacrificed so much for me.

She was a single mom trying to better herself by going back to school to be a nurse.

After I was born, she never got to be alone again. Even as she was a newlywed, she still had me.

And she never let me know it. She is the warmest, most gentle woman I know.

She has always stood behind me, beside me, she always believes in me.

If this was the end of your life, if you knew your time was short, what would you say and who would you say it to? What are you waiting for? You will only find your true joy, your true smile, when you release your feelings, your words. Don’t live with regret. Live in joy.