The Things You Would Have Said by Jackie Hooper is a stunning little book. Under two hundred pages, it doesn’t need more words to get the point across. The best things are like that, aren’t they? I love you. You’re beautiful. I miss you. Don’t go.
I chose this book today for a reason. My dad, who fell in early December (post about it here) has taken a turn… and is back in surgery. The news could be very bad. They’ve warned us. Or it could be better and by that I mean, not fatal. It’s the way things are measured these days… the days of Dad’s healing from a simple tumble.
I am certainly not alone in this… what do I call it?… vigil … this watching and waiting. I’m reminded of a commercial that comes on during Murder She Wrotereruns (don’t judge me!)… Sooner or later… the resonant voice intones… everybody falls. Seems to be so, if my friends and I (and our parents) are the barometer. And heck, it’s not just our parents, WE are falling, too. It’s cuz we are nearing (or in) our sixties. Whole buncha clumsy seniors out there in the world today. All us baby-boomers. Falling.
Anyway, this book has quietly been sitting on the shelf waiting for me to pick it. They do that, you know. They stand tall, willing me to pick them. 🙂 What I love, love, love about this book is the entire premise: write a letter to someone you didn’t get to address for whatever reason (distance, safety, death). It can be a family member, lover, hero, killer or a butthead from the playground. Anyone. Write “the words you would have said” as if you’re speaking to them *right at this moment*. I’ve done it. It is amazingly effective!
After the initial introduction, the book is simply filled with letters from people in all walks and stages of life. Get kleenex. You’ll need it. And I mean, whether you’re reading or writing. Powerful stuff.
The reason I chose this book today…
If you need it already, that’s one thing. And you’ll find a release and possibly some peace in working it. But, if not…
SAY “THOSE THINGS” BEFORE YOU NEED THIS BOOK.
I’ve said all those things to my dad, and more. As you might imagine, I wear my feelings on my sleeve, pretty-much, and almost everyone has heard anything I have to say.
(I’ve mentioned before that I’m kinda maudlin, saying I love you all the time. You know, as if I won’t see you again. But the thing is… we don’t know. The last time you speak to someone may truly be the LAST time. If the words were not what you’d hoped or wanted… change them!)
To be clear, if there is an issue of safety (like an abusive partner, parent, child or friend) I would never suggest you talk to them in person, at least not without a mediator (a therapist, perhaps).
But in all other cases, if the person is alive and you’re safe… TALK TO THEM. Don’t wait. Time is precious.