Ever stopped and asked/ wondered to yourself why is it that we often wait until our loved ones are sick to do nice things for them – and to tell them how much we care?! Let me start us off here; –
We’ve all been to funerals where there were kind words said about the person. But of course, they can’t hear them! So, why not say the kind words to the person while you can look into their eyes and see their reactions – rather than wait?
I like to believe that in our livelihood or life time have at a one time had someone who has been the sweetest to us, greatly admired/ celebrated for their contribution to whichever industry or our lives themselves, treated us gently and we would consider an all-round gem. They may not have necessarily have been a relative, or friend, or sibling, spouse, but rather distant and yet impact your life a lot. Could be by their words, actions/ deeds, kindness, humility, works, ever availability whenever anyone needs help, or lifestyle, generosity, sense of humor, name it. For many people, this one person could be an aunty, a grandmother, an uncle, a father/ mother, elder sibling, artist, favorite media personality, or fashionista/ designer, or public figure.
Ever stopped and did anything significant for them? Not that they are entitled to it, but as a personal initiative to express how much you love, are grateful to have them in your life and how much they mean to you? Also, as sign of telling them or showing them how wonderful you think they are. (In most African homes we are raised not to express how we feel. “I love you” is not a phrase we hear too often (a topic for another day).
The unfortunate bit of this life thing is its uncertainty; and how it could fade so fast. Not like am being a prophet of doom or something of the sort, but it’s the fact, we all someday are going to return to our permanent homes. Our icons, friends, siblings, all of us. Because we are just passing through this world, you never know when your life throws in the towel and our breath is gone. It is common to find us crying our eyes at funerals while feeling like a knife is being buried inside our hearts, because we’ll have lost those we love. The bigger guilt lying in us asking ourselves why we hadn’t done more for them while our people were alive; more spending quality time, verbalized your appreciation or admiration for them, held those lengthy phone conversations, hanged out more, visited each other quite more often, telling them how much you love them for all they’ve done for you, how much you appreciate the effort they put in so as to make it this far and the list of the other hurtful ‘I wish I had done this and that while time allowed…’ regrets. We’ve all been there. I know.
Truth be told, we often, in our lives, have so much to say to the people who have impacted or affected our lives in many ways, but never do. We rarely hold honest talks with them, telling them how we genuinely feel or/and think about them. I don’t know why there’s the tendency to hold back, or postpone these conversations that are not only important to us, but to them as well.
These things that we want so badly to let them know, but never do until it’s too late, that we have to talk to their images, an object (mostly jewelry/ornament) they loved, their corpse, graveside, or to their photograph or speaking to an empty chair as if they were sitting on it as we sob deeply.
Unlike the literal meaning of buying physical flowers and handing them to loved ones, but rather the kind words that people had to say about her and to her, giving people their flowers while they can still smell simply means giving them those “flowers” when it still matters. Flowers here is a metaphor for words, actions or basically making them see and/or feel. If you have something to say to someone, that’s making you feel unsettled, say it. But say it to them in time.
Give roses to the living, while they can still collect them.
May we do a lot of soul searching and find true meaning in life, and what matters. Give people their roses while they can smell them. Do meaningful things. You may consider them little. To the ones you love, it is all they need to get them through a rough day. Call that uncle and tell them you are thankful for the money they sent for you to buy books and other studying material, tell your ‘gangos’ (squad) how much you love them every day, spending time with them, making sure they know that they are loved, telling them the good things about themselves.
Text that friend who held your hand while you went through your flummoxed teenage years. Reach out to that person who stood by you in your exciting early twenties (maybe too exciting for your own good). The ones who were your moral compass or the greatest wingmen ever. Even if you are not friends like that anymore. Call that aunt and tell them you appreciate the time they cooked and sent you food. So, you could be well-nourished to study. Send an email to that cousin who encouraged you to be passionate about your dreams. Even when no one else thought they were valid.
You see how the music/ entertainment industry tends to nominate artist in various categories for awards, or even chart their songs highly, most after their passing away, now just imagine how much of an impact it would have made to their careers if they were given all this acclamation and celebrated while they were still living. Back here at home, last month we lost one of our country’s mayors, and as part of honoring his legacy, a certain road/lane was named after him. Allow me pose this question to you again, have you stopped to picture how sleek and perfect the entire event would have been in case they had named this route after him while he was still living; maybe with him launching the road in a colorful event, and seen how much his life had impacted the city, hence the celebration.
Jose Chameleon once sang ‘Basiima Ogenze’ which is a lose translation of ‘they start to celebrate you and appreciate you while you are long gone’. To add to this is a song I very much by Chronixx by the title; ‘Tell Me Now’, carries an almost similar message of giving people their roses while they can still smell them. 🥺
By the way, appreciating your friends/ family/ relative/ spouse/ boss/ sibling and telling them you love them has nothing to do with gender, or level of communication but rather everything about love, and spreading kindness. Therefore, take it upon yourself to call more, spend more time with your people, cherish every single moment. Give your relatives and friends their flowers while they are still alive and can still smell them because once they are gone, they are gone.
I guess I’m just writing this to say, we are never too busy to make time for our loved ones and we should always try make sure everyone we love knows that. If a loved one does pass away remember that they knew you loved them, and you can’t always internalize guilt regarding their passing away. They would want you to be happy.
Someone has a beautiful smile that strikes you, tell them, you find their bulbous eyes fascinating, do tell them. You are struck by your seatmate’s cologne, there is no shame in telling them you like their scent. Whatever it is, share those compliments, flowers to those to whom they out to be given. So yes, post them on your Instagram/ WhatsApp or wherever, give them those phone calls, go hard on the outings and spending quality time and all other forms of expression you have to celebrate your people. This does not mean they may do similar for you, but what’s important is you’ll have shown how you feel about them, and that’s what counts.
“Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude’, read a line from Anne Frank’s Diary. Let this not be your narrative. Spread love like there is no tomorrow, and give your people those flowers. ❤