Final Words

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I overheard an argument the other day between a man and his wife/partner/relative. The argument was about whether to pull into a parking spot or back in. The two were sitting in the car yelling back and forth trying to get in the final word.

I know, silly doesn’t close.

Finally, the guy stormed off. “Park it yourself!” adding a few choice adjectives in the end. Perhaps there was some other fundamental issue underlying the bickering, but it makes little difference.

Maybe, in their case, this wouldn’t matter, but suppose those were the last words he ever spoke to her?

Imagine the last words said to someone you at least at some point cared about included words your parents would be ashamed hearing you say them. (Or, if they wouldn’t, it be might be part of the problem.)

Now, I’m not talking about those encounters with the idiots of the world. Sometimes an extended middle finger and a few well rehearsed expletives can be supremely satisfying and necessary.

But not for those who hold a more stable place in our lives. In the twenty years I spent as a police officer, I heard some remarkably nasty exchanges between people ostensibly in some form of caring relationships.

Anger can be both inspirational and irrational. In many cases it seemed the only creative effort, in a warped sought of way, they’d ever made in their lives. Many times it included some form of the phrase, “I hope you die!”

On more than one occasion, this turned out to be prophetic.

Occasional angry words between friends and families are inevitable. One can not always consider the uncertainty of the future as it would paralyze us. But one should be mindful in choosing those last words before storming off.

If one spends a lifetime nurturing relationships, it would be tragic when the inevitable arrives to have unkind and ill-considered words stand as the last memory.

Never let anger erase the time spent caring and being cared about. Be angry if necessary but keep in mind this too will pass. As will we all.

And ill-chosen words spoken in anger will echo in one’s memory far longer than whatever gave rise to their utterance when the opportunity to retract them is gone.

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