Of all things said to a loved one, one of the most popular questions is asked almost like a statement. This happens when something is wrong, only we didn’t know about it until something unfortunate happened and then we ask, “Well, why didn’t you tell me?”
I have heard this question many times myself. I have heard others ask it and I have asked this question too.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Or, “Why didn’t you just say something?”
“I’d have been there for you if I only knew!”
It’s a strange thing we do to suffer in silence. Maybe we are afraid of the truth of our circumstances. Maybe we suffer alone because of shame or guilt or the worry that we might be seen as a burden. Maybe we don’t want to bother the people we love. Or, perhaps we suffer for other reasons, like doubt for example, or the fearfulness that no on will want to be around us if we are not this perfect person that we wish or pretend to be. Maybe the reason is as simple as the fact that we just don’t like our options, so we deny them with hopes something will change or maybe we will improve somehow, almost miraculously, and the problems will just go away.
Way back when Mom was trying to take legal action against a man that destroyed my family’s company, she found a good attorney to help with the case. The attorney was a woman of great intelligence. She was a good attorney and a good friend. She worked very hard on my Mother’s case. She had her own practice. This took up much of the attorney’s time and kept her scheduling tight.
She was good. Real good. She was strong and at the top of her game. She put in so many hours helping others and protecting the interest and the rights of her clients. She loved and lived with all of her heart.The attorney won the smaller cases very quickly but the bigger cases took more time and needed more attention. Mom was depending on this lawsuit. Mom was depending on her attorney to come through with the bigger case to save her from bankruptcy. She was also depending upon her friend.
However, unbeknownst to Mom, the attorney was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She did not tell anyone about this. She did not want to suffer the treatment or have anyone she loved or cared for see her this way. Sadly, the attorney died before Mom’s case was settled. After her death, it was revealed that the attorney did not want anyone to know. She did not want people to see her sick. She went out as she asked to but those who loved her wondered the same thing.
“Why didn’t she tell me?”
Maybe they would have wanted to been there to help, no matter how bad the circumstances might have been. Maybe they loved her just like Mom loved her and wanted to return the favor and return the love she had shown to so many others. Or, at minimum, maybe they just wanted the chance to say goodbye. I get that . . .
Back when I fell deeply into depression, I swore I wanted to check out. I wanted to quit. I wanted to flush it all away.
I never said much to anyone. I suffered silently I guess. Perhaps my suffering was not so silent at all because my behavior and my responses were actually quite loud.
Maybe I just lacked the words to tell you what I thought or felt. Maybe I didn’t have the ability or more accurately, maybe I was just afraid of feeling exposed and vulnerable. I didn’t want to seem or feel weak. I just didn’t want to feel the constant strain of energy dragging me down. Moreover, I never thought anyone else would “Get it” and I sure as hell never believed anyone else felt the same as me. I was alone, or so I thought.
There was a man named Mathias. He came to speak with me after the sum of my depression led me down to the darkest of my journeys. Mathias was not a professional. He was a friend. The best kind. He spoke with me. He said the things I never had the words to tell anyone else. He knew exactly how I felt, somehow, or perhaps on instinct alone, Mathias knew everything I felt and understood the thoughts that I never dared to describe. He saved me if you want to know the truth. The fact that Mathias came to me and sat me down; and the fact that he cared enough to understand; the fact that he cared enough to inspire me to live was enough motivation to pull me from my own darkness. He told me if I ever needed, just call. He said he would be there.
Years later, Mathias hung himself in his apartment.
He was alone. Of all people, I understood what the word alone meant to him.
I always thought to myself, “Why didn’t he say anything to me?”
Why didn’t he call me?
I would have helped him . . .
I would have done anything for him.
There is a beautiful sadness to this story because there is also a beautiful truth to this story. The fact remains that we do live in troublesome times and with troublesome people. We live in a “Me first,” world and in “Me first,” times.
Not everyone is this way. The world is not such an awful place. In fact, this world is filled with loving and beautiful people. I know this because I have met them. I would like to consider myself one of them. And if I’m not then I hope to be like them one day.
There are people I know and love and I watch them suffer quietly. I always offer my time because time is the most valuable thing we can give someone.
I guess I just want people to know that I care.
I want them to know that I’m here.
I don’t want anyone to feel the way I felt when Mathias died or the way Mom felt when her attorney (and friend) passed away.
The hardest thing to do after a loved one dies is live.
When they die, a part of us dies as well.
Love is funny this way because when you hurt, a piece of me hurts too.
But far be it from me to act innocent. For some reason, we want to hide our imperfections—maybe we just want to please others and being sick or feeling sad, being imperfect, or living in pain might take away from our ability to make others smile or please them or make them love us.
I get that too.
I guess I just don’t want you (since you are my loved one) to ever look at me, brokenhearted and hurt because I kept a secret from you and then you say, “But why didn’t you tell me.”
There is another side to this. This is the rejection side. When we keep painful secrets like this, the people we love will wonder why. They’ll wonder because same as we love them, they love us so much that they would do anything just to help. So let them help I say.
Tell you what, whenever things go wrong for you, if you can, promise you’ll let me be there for you and I’ll promise you the same. This way we honor our love and no matter how bad life gets, at least we’ll never leave anything unsaid and we’ll always have the chance to say I love you or goodbye.
Here was where my inspiration came from:
A little girl lost her Daddy a few months back. Truth is she wasn’t so little. Truth is she was grown but years and troubled times grew between them. In the end, things were left unsaid. And I am sure of this now. I am sure that wherever he is, her father, he is looking down and sending butterflies and dragonflies, maybe even lightening and thunder too just so nothing goes unsaid.
I think he is trying to say, I know I never had the chance to say goodbye. But that’s okay because I am not gone.
I’m right here is what I think he would tell her.
And there is so much I wished I would have told you.
And I’m sorry.
But listen to your Father when I say never leave anything unsaid.
It’s just not worth it he would say.
Then he would say I love you. Sorry about the lightening.
I didn’t mean to scare you.