The last words I said to my four-year-old son just seconds before he died are etched into my mind.
He had just awoken from a nap in the back seat of our rental car. We’d spent the day touring the Cotswolds, the part of England where they have all the pretty little thatched cottages. We all had jet lag.
Jeremy awoke and said, “Mommy, I’m hungry.”
And I made him a promise I’d never keep. I said, “OK, honey. We’ll be there soon and you can have ‘chips with tomato sauce’.”
He had already learned that’s British for “French fries with ketchup.”
My husband didn’t look both ways. Jeremy was dead a few seconds later.
Lesson One: You never know when the last thing you say to a loved one will be the last thing you EVER say to a loved one. Make sure it’s what you’d like to live with for the rest of your life.
Lessons Two – Three Billion are for another time.
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19 thoughts on “Last Words to a Dying Child”
Janice Marion Stotler says:
Yes, so true. My husband died while we were taking a short walk around our complex. Just gone with no warning. But I remember the last I said as he apparently lay dying: I love you!!
Wow, Janice! Amazing story! Thanks for sharing!
I remember all to well the day my 3 year was killed. I got out of the truck to run into to my mom’s just for a second, told him to stay in the truck. Next think I heard was tires, my son ran out in front of a truck. The last thing he ask for was ballons, I told him no I didn’t even have enough money to get my baby some ballons.. Jonathan, mommy is sorry, I didn’t keep you safe.
There’s plenty of proof you DID keep him safe – three years worth of proof. My former husband feels awfully guilty, even 20+ years later. I wish he and every other parent could find a way to realize that they didn’t do anything with intent to harm their child.
Wishing you peace,
I met someone while I was taking Driver’s ed who said his son was killed by a drunk driver. He told us that whenever they talked to each other on the phone, the last thing they said before hanging up was “I love you”. Those were the last words he said to his parents, and those were the last words his parents said to him.
Ryan – Thanks for sharing. It’s unnerving how many people I know whose children have been killed by drunk drivers! Makes me want to make all cars come with a breathalyzer that locks the drive shaft if someone’s been drinking. Really dreadfully sad.
My Mum passed away in October after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just 3 weeks before. I live a few States away and by the time I flew down to see her she was almost unconscious but the day before I’d spoken to her on the phone and the last thing we ever said to each other was “I love you”.
A few years ago I challenged myself to start saying “I love you” to my parents whenever I spoke to them as they’d never really said it out loud before and eventually they started saying it back… what a beautiful lesson to share with your parents. And I’m so so pleased I did or Mum and I would never have had that moment which will stay with me forever.
Thanks for sharing your heart with us.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful story, Karen.
Wishing you much peace, love and joy,
My four year old is dying a very slow death, and I’m so heartbroken knowing I’m going to lose him. I have been making every moment count. How are you ever ok when part of you gets taken away?
I’m so very, very sorry to hear about your son. Mine was also four when he died. The Great Debate is whether it’s “better or worse” to have someone die fast – like my son – or slowly, like yours. Here’s what I believe the answer is: neither. But I do believe the grieving can’t start until the death has happened. I would be so heartbroken, too, TJ. All I know for certain is that you will get through this, and eventually find a sense of peace about it that you cannot now imagine. I promise.
Sending you so much love and sympathy,
Vicki Arven says:
Wendy – I always thought for years that someone going tragically would be the worst….until I watched my husband fight lung cancer for year. In talking to a very good friend, who lost her husband suddenly, she told me that she thought what I went through was worse. But I told her, that there was nothing good about losing someone, whether it was quick or slow. It’s been 2 years since I told him I loved him and good-bye. I still struggle with him being gone and am so lonely; and still wonder why I didn’t realize in the last two months he was alive that he had started the dying process. I’ve asked the doctors, “do you think he knew he was dying at that point? So many questions. But am glad that recently I have started getting your FB posts and the excerpts speak to me directly. I just want to say thank you.
Your kind comments are very much appreciated, but I’m so sad to hear what you’ve gone through! I’m sure he knew how much you loved him. I wish you a live overflowing with love, joy and peace from this day forward.
Rose Zechman says:
My son and his wife abandoned our family 2 years ago. From time to time they “enjoy” messaging me, throwing the past in my face (I left his dad several years ago). Today at the end of such messaging he said….
” YOU ARE NO LONGER MY MOTHER. WE HAVE BEEN VERY HAPPY WITHOUT YOU IN OUR LIVES AND WE WILL CONTINUE. BYE ROSE”
Then he said…”OK HAVE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SAY TO ME BC THIS WILL BE IT.”
After removing the knife from my heart I said…”I WISH THE BEST FOR YOU BOTH AND NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU HATE ME AND HOLD THINGS AGAINST ME—-I WILL NEVER EVER STOP LOVING YOU BOTH…GOD BLESS”
My heart is still aching as I share this. I pray God will keep them safe.
Rose, that sounds excruciating! I can’t even begin to imagine. I hope you find peace with this trauma, and your life fills with love, if necessary from other sources.
Rose Zechman says:
Wendy please–please–please remove this post, it’s causing a problem. I should learn to keep my problem to myself. 🙁 Thank you.
Problems shared are easier on you!!! Not sure why this post is causing trouble… truth hurts? I have a friend who is going thru stuff like this and until it was shared it did not get better!! All the best!!!
He’ll grow to regret what he said.
You have great courage, sharing this heartbreaking story. It is a tragedy that no person on this earth ever wants to endure but one that we have no choice in either. I know that nothing I say can make a situation better. All I can do is thank you, for sharing yourself, because yes, people need to be reminded to treasure what we have, and never take it for granted. We live like we have forever, but we never do, and unfortunately we must always say goodbye in the end, despite how heart breaking and life shattering it is, we have to continue and get through it somehow. I have had to do this myself, and I’m still learning how to. it is a life long journey. Thanks Wendy for giving everyone a grain of wisdom, and I hope people choose to acknowledge and learn and embrace this lesson. As I feel so many people take things for granted, believing those things never happen to them, until it’s too late.
Thank you for your eloquent note, Elles. I think it is passion more than courage that drives me to write these things, though. I feel like I’ve seen so much suffering, in my life and in the lives of so many others. Like you say, the lesson is obvious, but we all need to be reminded. When I annoyed with my daughter or another family member, I have to remind myself of the same principles I write about – it’s human to get accustomed to familiar things. (I think this is why people end up losing the passion in their marriages, too, btw!)
I really am grateful for your comment. It IS a life long journey.