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Don't wait to tell your loved ones how you feel

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving, a day when most families get together around the table to enjoy food, share moments and create new memories to treasure later. Families take that time to express thankfulness for life, for their blessings and for the love of family. But life is a fragile thing. While most of us continued the celebration with our families the next day, others were saying their final goodbye to a family member.

A classmate's father passed away the day after Thanksgiving. The day after her family was reunited to give thanks for all they have, they lost someone they loved dearly. She didn't know that Thanksgiving was their last time together. Meanwhile, many of us are still enjoying the blessing of the presence of our loved ones — another reason to be thankful. Life is definitely fragile.

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When I learned the news, I couldn't help it but think of all those people that had recently lost a loved one. I thought about all the people that lost family or friends during the France terrorist attacks; the many refugees fleeing their country trying to escape war and hunger; all those that have had to say goodbye to a relative suffering a long-lasting illness; those that were in a car on their way to meet with family and had a car accident; or those who took a plane and never made it to their destination.

Life is fragile. The future is not a given. We tend to rely on the idea that there will always be another day to do the things on our to-do list. We think that, at some point, we will get to finish that unfinished business and have the time to say those unsaid "I love yous" or "I am sorrys." But the reality is, everything can change in a split second, and those who are important to you might not be there to hear those words.

That's why we should never keep those feelings to ourselves; we should let our loved ones know how much we care, right there, right then, because we don't know if later might be too late.

I've met people who felt at peace because their loved ones departed knowing how much they were loved and how important they were to others. I've also met people who regret every day not having told their loved ones how much they meant in their lives and how much they always loved them. I've met children who couldn't tell their parents how much they appreciated and loved them before they were gone. I've met parents whose children were gone before they made it clear how proud they were of them and how much they were loved. I've known people who've had disagreements with friends and never said "I'm sorry," thinking they would just catch the other person at a later time to make amends, but "later" ended up being too late. I've met others so afraid of saying "I love you" to the person they have fallen in love with that when they finally decided to do it, it was already too late.

Life is fragile. All we have for sure is right now. That's why every night I go to my children's bedroom and, while they are asleep, I make sure to kiss them and say "I love you," because I don't know if I will get another chance to tell them. That's why every morning I kiss them goodbye, I send them on their way with all my blessings and I make sure to smile at them and look at their beautiful faces one more time, because I don't know if we will see each other again. That's why I make sure that if I couldn't see my husband before he left for work, I text him during the day to say "I love you," because I don't know if those are the last words he will read from me. That's why when my children tell me they need to talk to me, even if I am exhausted from a busy day, I will make time to listen to them, because I don't know if that is the last advise and the last of my time I will give them.

My intention with this column is not to be pessimistic or make you afraid of life. My intention is just to emphasize the urgency of showing those we love how important they are in our lives — the importance of making sure we tell our loved ones how sorry we are or how much we love them. Life is fragile; tomorrow is not a given, but love is strong and should always be present, every day, every moment.

Marta Cruz-Alicea writes every other week for the Life & Times section of the Carroll County Times.

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