There are many things I remember about that September morning. The cool, crisp air. The beautiful blue sky. I had just arrived at work later than I’d intended after dropping my kids off at school and flipped on the radio to listen to my favorite talk show.
Instead, I heard news bulletins that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
I remember how minute by minute, hour by hour, the day became a nightmare I wished I could wake from. When I stood in front of a television in the office, watching the towers collapse, I wondered how it could be happening in our country. I knew the world would never be the same.
But in the days that followed, I learned something about humanity that surprised me. It came from the messages that were left by people who had died that day.
Mark Bingham was a passenger on United Flight 93, a hijacked airplane apparently headed for the White House on 9/11. He and a group of passengers tried to overpower the hijackers. His mother, Alice Hoglan recalls what he said in his phone call to her:
“I want you to know I love you very much, and I’m calling you from the plane. We’ve been taken over. There are three men who say they’ve got a bomb.”
Fifteen minutes later, Flight 93 crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing 40 crew members and passengers.
Moisas Rivas was a cook at Windows of the World, on the top floor of the World Trade Center. His stepdaughter, Linda, received a call from him at 9:02 a.m. on 9/11, and later gave her mother a message from Moisas:
“Yes, Mommy, he said not to worry. He’s OK, Mommy, not to worry. He’s OK. Mommy — he say, he love you — no matter what happen, he love you.”
What struck me about these messages–about all of the messages I heard and read–was that the one thing these people wanted their loved ones to know was how much they loved them. In what they believed would be the last minutes of their lives, what they needed to say above anything else was, not, “Do you love me?” but instead, “I love YOU.”
In those terrifying moments, when I expected a person would need to be comforted and loved, instead, they needed to express love.
If you had only one thing left to say, what would it be?
Say it today.