A couple of weeks ago, I watched an amazing TED talk given by Benjamin Zander, an orchestra conductor. At the end of the talk, he recounts the story of a lady he'd met, a concentration camp survivor. She told him that on the train to Auschwitz, she'd gotten mad at her younger brother for forgetting his shoes. She said something a typical big sister might say, "you're so stupid, can't you keep your things together?" Unfortunately her little brother didn't survive and that was the last thing she said to him. When finally freed, she made a vow that she wouldn't say anything that couldn't stand as the last thing she'd say.
I loved the talk for many reasons, but that little story at the end really stayed with me. I've often thought about it, intrinsically, mostly after an argument with a family member when, even though I'm angry, I know that I love them. Sometime I have terribly morbid fantasies that if they were to get in a car crash that day I wouldn't be able to live with myself. Despite it, I rarely apologize. We just get over it and life goes on.
The other day my girlfriend and I got into an argument in the morning, just before going to work. It was really petty (even though I still think I was right), but the problem is that we called each other selfish and were about to head off to our respective work days on really bad terms. The other thing was that this happened a day or two after the school shooting in Connecticut, an incident which we'd discussed at length. At that moment, in the heat of our exchange, after the washroom door was slammed, I thought, how sad that on that day somebody may have left to work on these terms, that a parent scolded their kid that morning right before school. It's not impossible. It was just another day.
I called my dear roomie back and, with some difficulty I said, "you know, if something happened to either of us...this would be a terrible way to remember each other..."
"I know, I know. Oooh, I hate you!" she said lovingly. And we kissed and loved each other again.
Why did I feel compelled to write this? Because even if it's unlikely that many of us will die tragically and completely unexpectedly, we tend to forget why we live. To love each other.