In Case of Emergency, Read This

4677620_origI am a note person. I leave little scraps of encouragement and wit in the lunch boxes and have been known to stuff a love note or two into my husband’s wallet between the credit cards. I keep boxes of written evidence of a life well-loved and lived. Even the blog is really just a series of notes if you think about it. So next week, when I travel across the Atlantic leaving my husband and sons behind for a week, I will likely leave behind a paper trail. A popcorn string of thoughts, making sure that those I love know they’re loved.

Originally I was gong to write this and post it from the airport. How sweet, I thought, to have a little blog post full of all the things I love about my family for them to discover as I’m hurtling over the Atlantic on a wing and a prayer. Then I had a terrible, no good, very bad thought. What if something happened in the middle of flying across six time zones? It would be nice that my family would have a little reminder but what a terrible thing to be reminded of. Then the little evil blogger who sits on my shoulder, the one with the horns and the cape thought I bet it would go viral. Woman pens love for family moments before plane goes down sort of thing. And people would read it and get all teary and sentimental because well…who wouldn’t? But all those things, all those good things I feel for and about my family would forever be tied up in tragedy. Not good.

Why is it that the emotions we feel seem more poignant when there’s an emergency? Why do we wait until the last minute, when someone is about to walk out the door or call it quits, the towel mere seconds from being thrown in–to tell each other the important things? Not I love you so much as the reasons why I did and do and will continue to do so.


I don’t want my sons to learn their smiles light up my life because I left behind a letter to read in case of emergency. I don’t want my husband to discover my life would be gray and dull without him because of a note I left behind. I don’t want my feelings for the people in my life to be a post-script, a break-the glass scenario. I want them to know today. And yesterday. And tomorrow.

I am always heartbroken and broken-hearted when I read letters left behind by parents. They play and pluck on my heartstrings as expertly as a harpist. As a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, a sister, as a writer, I know I would do the same. I would be frantic there wasn’t enough time to tell my loved ones everything I needed to tell them. Everything from don’t forget to floss to make sure you listen out for the “I love you” that sings with every beat of your heart. Which is why it’s even more important to scatter their lives with those reasons in the every day. Not just for emergencies.

lettersMaybe I don’t’ show it enough. Perhaps my love for my family gets overshadowed by the mundane, stuck on the bottom of a pan like so much baked on, caked on gunk. Maybe it gets lost in translation or in transit or in the spaces between. Those shiny things that make me smile or count my blessings, those things sometimes get lost in the Mondays, in the laundry basket, in between the cracks of the sofa. But I don’t ever want my family to hear about them in something that begins In case of Emergency.

So I won’t put them here.

This should be the post that goes viral, not the one stamped with tragedy, but the one tied up in life. The one that reminds us all to look to the left and look to the right and to tell the ones on either side out loud. The one that makes you remember that we have today, but not always tomorrow. In case of emergency shouldn’t be the reason, it should be merely be a reminder.



22 thoughts on “In Case of Emergency, Read This

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  1. This is nice, and I’ve thought along similar lines before…and what my wife calls the ‘crash and burn fantasies’ we have as parents, imagining dark things. The logic that somehow it’s better if we all go down together on the same flight, for example. Funny how our fears play on us like that. Are you heading to the UK? Tell me more, tell me more.


    1. Mostly I worry about my kids teeth and the fact that their table manner are still lacking…;-). No, I think as a parent you sometimes have to imagine the absolute worst thing imaginable, name it and shine a light on it and then move on. You can’t dwell because it would be paralyzing, but you have to know as well in order to live to your fullest potential. I’m off to the US, for my sisters’ 40th birthday!


    1. I’ve scheduled this post for March 30. Rather than reproduce your words on my site, I’ve linked back here. I hope many people will read, and I’ve asked them to share. This matters. Have a great week.


  2. You know that if you posted this while you were enroute that you would be blamed for taking down the plane, don’t you? Bloggy interference with the navigation equipment, with your voice on the black box recorder cursing Word Press …

    Actually, I thought it was a sweet post. But I’m evil.


    1. From the airport, Elyse! Not the plane! ON the plane I catch up with the 600 movies I haven’t seen since I had kids ;-). But if anyone is going to be recorded cursing anyone else, it would probably be me ;-).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, he had a car and we practically lived in it on every date before he went into the service in WW2, but that’s another story. My daughter and I tell each other and our friends that we love them all the time, after each phone call and after every visit. In case there is an accident or worse, those will be the last words they will have heard from us. You are right…..this is your post that should go viral. Thank you.


    1. :-). One of my many homages to Grease. (Can a homage be plural? It sounds funny). I digress..We do the same, and though times it can sound trite and sometimes it’s the furthest feeling from my mind at the time of saying it, the thought of it being the last thing I say or that someone I love hears me say is enough to keep me doing it. It’s the same reason I check on my kids every night before I go to bed, a slightly irrational, overly superstitious need to make sure I’ve tucked them in and kissed a forehead or a cheek before I turn in. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment–and for the kindest of words.


  4. This is a lovely post and so true that we should make every effort to let our loved ones know they are loved (and why) without there being an emergency. And yet I love that “popcorn string of love.” If I were the recipient of little notes stuck between my credit cards, I would keep every one. I would rejoice in them without there being an emergency. I would save them for years later when I and the note-writer can read them again and see what memories they spark. I have boxes of letters and cards that go back 20+ years. I don’t keep them in case of an emergency, but because I do enjoy reminiscing. I enjoy the opportunity to remind my sister of the wonderful long, meditative letters she wrote to me while working the night shift at a hospital. Your point is well-taken that we shouldn’t leave these missives for in case of an emergency, but keep leaving those notes in wallets and lunchboxes. They are priceless 🙂


    1. They are some of the only things I DO keep ;-). My husband accuses me all the time of being terribly unsentimental, but I have all the notes, tucked away in a binder labeled, of course, “NOTE book”. I enjoy rereading letters too. When I read the ones my husband wrote me back when we first met, I get butterflies all over again. I sometimes wonder what today’s young couples will reminisce with. Somehow texting doesn’t seem the same!

      Liked by 1 person

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