Today a 20-year-old girl flipped her truck and died on the scene. I never met her but I got to know a lot about her. A good friend of mine is grieving her, and spent time with me today, telling me about her, showing me pictures and writings, and telling me stories. Her name was Kayleen. She was one of those people who was always up and happy, even when things were going really wrong. She was a giver. One time she drove through a snowstorm to deliver a basket of food and a grocery gift card to a friend because she heard through the grapevine that the friend was having a rough time financially. She loved Jesus and made sure everyone knew it. She liked to laugh and be silly and dance in the car to the songs on the radio. She had a fantastic smile.
I learned all of this about Kayleen through my friend Delaney. She told me about her and showed me pictures and Kayleen’s Facebook page as part of talking through some of her loss, and as we were looking at the Facebook page, I noticed something in her “favorite quotes” section. It read: “One day one of us will be gone and then it will be too late to say I love you.”
I thought, how profound is that. We all say things like that, without honestly thinking how true they are. I doubt very much that Kayleen really expected that she could be gone at any time when she wrote that quote, but yet, she is. People have bee”goodbye” messages on her Facebook, and one started out “Just last night I was talking to you…” Life can be like that. It can be unexpected and sudden. Don’t miss opportunities to tell people that you love them. Don’t waste chances to do something kind. If there is a relationship that needs forgiveness, ask for it, or give it. If you have a minute to send an encouraging email or text, take it. If you haven’t talked to someone for a while, call. Don’t leave room for regrets. Tomorrow is promised to no one.
Another thing that Delaney showed me on Kayleen’s Facebook was a letter to friends and family. She had taken a summer intern position with an inner city mission program. She wrote about how her family was concerned for her safety, but that she knew that the safest place for her was in the center of God’s will. Then she wrote “A verse God has been laying on my heart a lot lately is Acts 20:24 which says, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” I am ready and willing to give it all to achieve the work Christ has set out for me.”
I can’t help but be moved by how much this young woman affected others in her short life. Her Facebook page has dozens, I would guess close to a hundred, messages from people expressing their grief but also their joy at having known her. Sharing stories of the times she encouraged and uplifted them, of acts of kindness performed unasked, of the love of God displayed unwaveringly.
Delaney told me that all Kayleen cared about was that people knew she loved Jesus. (That and selling Mary Kay.) I hope that when the time comes to remember me, people are able to look back on my life and see the love of Jesus more than my flaws and my selfishness. I hope that I can leave the kind of legacy in however many decades I get, that Kayleen left in 20 short years.
Don’t forget – One day, it may be too late to say I love you. Don’t wait.
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24