I have a fear, a fear I haven’t admitted to a lot of people, but a huge fear nonetheless. I fear that I will die without any warning or notice and without time to tell the people I love how I feel about them. Perhaps it’s irrational, perhaps in another lifetime I was left by a loved one without knowing how they felt. I do know there are a few examples from this lifetime in which people have passed without me ever telling them how I feel.
My ex-boyfriend’s dad died of a heart attack my freshman year of college. After dating the boy for the better part of 3 years, Jon had become my second dad and I loved him very dearly. He was smart, loving, hilarious and full of energy. I have a vivid mental picture from one of my high school basketball games (when I wasn’t even dating his son) of him in the front row yelling, “Go Tesi” at the top of his lungs and then standing and clapping whenever I didn’t screw up. I remember his favorite song was Faith Hill’s “This Kiss” and he held off smoking in the garage whenever I was around because it made my eyes turn red. At his funeral one of their best family friends came up to me and said, “Jon always said he thought of you as his daughter and if he could’ve chosen one it would’ve been you.” (He had two sons, no daughters). Though her words gave me comfort, I prayed so intensely that God was on the other side telling Jon, “She always said if she were to have a second dad, she would’ve wanted it to be you.” I never told him, we got along so well I comfort myself in believing he just had to have known how much I loved him and still think about him all the time.
My senior year of college I called my mom’s office (she was one of my high school’s counselors). The secretary then told me she was in another woman’s office comforting her because her son had just died in a car accident. It just so happened I graduated with her son and considered him a good guy, a friend. I broke down and decided it best not to attend classes that day. Matt was the guy in high school who was a friend of everybody. My “position” in high school was an interesting one but Matt never cared much about that and always showed me the greatest amount of support and respect even when people from his “group” disagreed. He not only accepted my stance against partaking in things he and his friends did, he respected it and told me so on more than one occasion. The day before he died he and some friends were in Iowa City and they stopped by my house. He got to meet my son for the first time and we were able to “catch up” in the twenty or so minutes they hung around. I walked in the house and lamented on how great of a guy he had always been. Unfortunately the lamenting stayed only between my husband and myself, because he was taken from this world not 12 hours later.
So this morning I woke up early and got ready before Trysten woke up so that we could spend some extra quality time before we went to work and daycare. Sure enough, we had a lot of fun. His favorite game is to say something like, “I really like this cereal, but you know what I like more than this cereal?” He waits for me to ask, “What?” And with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen, he claims, “You”. So we played this adorable game the good portion of the morning and when it was time for me to head off to work I gave him a hug and he told me to “share good with my friends” and sent me off. As I was maneuvering (everything is a maneuver when you’re 7 months pregnant, in a skirt, trying to get into a Honda Civic) into the car Zach yells at me, “Tesi wait.” Trysten came out, obviously crying. He came up to me and said, “I sad cuz you left and I didn’t say I wuv you.” I truly was thisclose to shrugging off work for the day and staying with my child who shares my sometimes-irrational fear.
I have to believe it’s at least a small fear in all of us. That even from a small age we innately want “to love and be loved in return”. The ability to love is the greatest blessing God has given us and I am considerably luckier than most that I have had an abundance of love to give and given to me in my life. My husband and I don’t leave each other without a kiss and an “I love you”. My mom and I have long since said it to one another and I’ve slowly coaxed it out of my dad and sister when we’re parting ways as well (I fear I have a long way to go for my little brother). It comes extremely naturally to all the Klipschs, more often than not it’s a competition on who can prove their love more or say the words first. But I hope my family, friends and acquaintances realize those words are more than words to me, that not only do I truly love them, but respect, admire and appreciate them. If I die tomorrow I don’t want them to just remember how I said those words so often but how I made them feel them all the time.
This blog is dedicated not only to my enormous family: blood, extended, in-laws and the like, but also to my friends both old and new, to teachers and mentors and everyone in between. To God, that He reminds me of the people who need to hear what I think of them the most. And that He continuously shows me his love, as his has for all my years. And to everyone out there who might share in this little fear of mine. Go spread a little love people.