Choose words wisely

Posted on July 23, 1999

Bad things happen.

There's nothing anyone can do; they just happen. This past week, we saw our fair share of incidents. Nationally, a man whose life has been in a continual spotlight died in a plane crash. Locally, a young woman was found dead after being missing since July 4.

Tragedies strike at all times, mostly when least expected. There are numerous levels of tragedies, yet they all come back to one thing — loss. Losing something or someone can be devastating. But eventually, the void becomes a part of you, while you try fervently to concentrate on other things.

I've been more fortunate than some, but I've had my share of losses. When I was 16, a cousin was killed in an auto accident. It wasn't easy — she was only 27 and had two small children, another on the way. I went through the motions at the calling and the funeral. The whole event didn't seep in until a week later. I overheard neighbors out my window talking. It reminded me of my own family gatherings, which troubled me deeply. I finally pulled myself together, went to work and tried to think of other things.

My cousin, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Erika Norman have left their impact on the world. Although none of them planned to go the way they did, there's one thing for certain — they want their loved ones to be happy. A tragedy is no time to be happy, but reflecting with family and friends can be.

No one is perfect — it's human nature to disagree. But you should never walk away angry from any engagement. That could be the last time you see the person.

I'm not good at expressing my feelings. And I'm too good at arguing with others. But if there is something on my chest — whether it be to a family member, a close friend or even someone I just met — I try to gather enough courage to say it. The effort doesn't always work, but there's only so much a person can do.

How else are you going to know how someone feels about you unless they tell you? It's usually like pulling teeth, but the world would be a little better if people just communicated more. I think about all the times I could have said this or that and didn't. Where has that gotten me? No where.

A loss of words can be just as tragic as physical loss. Analyzing and interpreting what one is thinking can be even more agonizing than looking back at something that cannot be changed.

Maybe I'm not the right person to give this advice, but I will anyway. Talk to your family. Talk to your friends. Talk to people you pass on the sidewalk. Sure, you're taking a chance. But who will hear your words when the chance has passed?