On a night in November, 2010, a suburban Chicago woman was asleep in the bedroom of her garden level apartment when an SUV driven by a drunken 17 year-old boy jumped the curb, crashed through the bedroom window and landed on top of her, killing her instantly. This is a tragic story, one that need not have happened. When I read about it I was dismayed that a 17 year-old would be drunk and driving. But, this is not uncommon. People die from alcohol related accidents every day. However, what was unusual was that the victim was in her own home, asleep in her bed. I was horrified by the thought of it. We think of our homes as a place where we are safe from the dangers of the street. We think of our beds as a place of rest and comfort where we escape through our dreams from those things in our lives that make us weary. We think we’re safe from harm.
I imagined the woman getting ready for bed. I pictured her washing her face and brushing her teeth before changing into her nightclothes. I wondered what her thoughts were as she turned out the light and pulled up the covers. Did she look back over her day? Did she think about someone she loved? Did she pray? I wondered what unfinished business she had in her life, that, had she known of her impending death, would have taken care of? What things had she left unsaid? What dreams had she never realized?
We could ask these questions of ourselves since at some point any of us could be in a situation where something like this happens. A sudden traumatic death would find most of us unprepared, as we all expect to get up in the morning and live another day. We live as though we will always have a tomorrow. Most of us take to bed with us unfinished business—things we put off because we either don’t make the time to do them or we’re afraid to do them. What would your regrets be? Who have you not told something to? What relationship have you never taken the time to heal? What amends do you owe someone? What have you always dreamed of doing, but never took the time to do?
If you’re like me, you didn’t even have to think about your answers to these questions. I bet a name, a place, or an activity sprang immediately to mind. So, why do we put these things off? Why do we crawl into bed without having taken care of our unfinished business? Why do we turn out the lights without having told someone how much they mean to us? Why do we pull up the covers without having asked someone we’ve hurt for forgiveness? Why do we lay our heads on our pillows without having made a plan to realize the things about which we’ve been dreaming?
Well, it doesn’t really matter why. Let’s just not put off until tomorrow those things which we need to do today, and let us not delay until another day the realization of our dreams, so that when our time of death comes, we will have no regrets.
Categories: Theological Reflections