Sometimes 'Tomorrow' is a Bad Word
edited: Thursday, December 14, 2006
By Andrea L Conley
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2006
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Life is full of departures - both expected and unexpected. And procrastination is often the beginning of life-long regrets...
As most R&B music fans, I was overcome by feelings of sadness and disbelief at the sudden passing of singer Gerald Levert. Although I never met him or even saw him perform live in concert, the sensation was quite similar to losing a loved one. Not only was the handsome, eligible bachelor immensely talented, charismatic and widely reported to be as decent and down-to-earth as you can get in a celebrity; he was also said to be a generous and genuinely loving father to his kids, and together with his brother, Sean, he was the pride and joy of his dad, the legendary Eddie Levert of the O’Jays. It was reported that Gerald was still hoping to find his soulmate - he wanted a wife.
Gerald is believed to have died of heart disease, likely due to his being considerably overweight for most of his adult life. Still, the fact that he was only 40 years old and the fact there was little or no warning of his demise, is haunting to many of us. Those close to him said they had seen him in the days immediately before his death and he seemed happy and well.
It would not come as a surprise if Levert’s parents, kids, friends and other loved ones have been dealing with questions like, “Why didn’t he tell me he was sick?” “Why couldn’t I have been with him that day?” “Why didn’t we have the chance to say goodbye?”
And maybe most importantly, “Did he know how much he meant to me?”
Hopefully, when Gerald drew his final breath, he was comforted by thoughts of the love he gave and received freely and openly with those who shared his brief, but successful and inspiring life.
But what happens when we fail to say or show love until it is too late?
Several days ago I found out my friend Bailey had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. When I heard the news he was already in hospice, languishing there on the cusp between life and death.
I thought several times about how I had promised myself to visit him. More than 2 years had passed since we had seen or spoken with each other. We had not parted on angry terms – rather, “things came up”, and I just kept putting off for tomorrow….
Instinctively, I rushed to his side that Sunday night. Something told me there was no time to lose.
When I got there, I had to look at the name posted above his bed, because he was unrecognizable. The ravages of cancer had left him looking like a withered black twig, rather than the hardworking, attractive, robust man he had been just a couple of years back.
He tried to speak, his words were inaudible, with the exception of “…I’m alright.”
I stared at him. He stared at me. I wondered what he was thinking. I hoped he recognized me. I hoped he hadn’t been too hurt by my absence from his life for the past 26 months. I hoped he wasn’t in too much pain; I am told he was hooked up to some heavy duty morphine that would in most cases render him numb. I held his hand and asked if I could pray with him, and he nodded yes. I remember tearfully babbling to God to please give Bailey a double portion of peace and comfort. Please.
Wednesday, three days later, after a particularly long, hard day at work and even longer, harder chores and errands to do afterward, I remember thinking I should go visit Bailey again. When he finally drifted off to sleep Sunday night, I had promised him I would return. But the hospice was at least a half-hour drive and I was wiped out. So much so that I was basically afraid I might fall asleep behind the wheel. “I’ll go see him tomorrow” I told myself wearily as I staggered up the stairs and into bed.
Early the next morning when I awoke I saw the voice mail icon on the display of my cell phone. The message had been from Bailey’s daughter. He passed away at 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
Do not think that I am consumed with guilt. I‘m not. As I mentioned, I had not said hateful things to him or even blamed him for things he said or didn’t say to me. Rather, I was disappointed in myself. I knew better; I should have done better. I expected so much better from myself.
I was the one always atop my soap box, ranting to my friends about how “tomorrow is not promised. So many of those people who died on 9-11 had plans for tomorrow when they went to work that morning” I would admonish.
I tend to think since Gerald Levert’s passing was so unexpected that no one in his life bade him goodbye in the days immediately preceding his death. Perhaps those closest to him said “I love you” when they saw him last. Maybe not. Maybe they planned to tell him ‘tomorrow’.
Conversely, I am sure my friend and his family knew he would soon be gone. His daughter had told me that, in so many words, after she tracked me down. Maybe, subconsciously I had stayed away until the end, so as not to have to explain to him why I stayed away so long in the first place. For someone who took so many psychology courses in college, I swear I don’t know as much as I thought I did.
I do know that I wouldn’t wish these feelings on my worst enemy. So if there is someone in your life with whom you have been thinking of reconciling, but you have not reached out because you think ‘tomorrow’ will be better than today, well, today could be the very last ‘tomorrow’ you have.