What Was The Last Thing You Said to Someone Before They Died?

In high school I was friends with a girl who was very toxic, and when I began digging myself out of depression I cut her out of my life and didn’t speak to her for a year.

We had a very close relationship while we were friends, but for an entire year we never spoke a word to each other, not even a ‘hello’ when we passed each other in the hallways at school.

Then, one day, she texted me, inviting me to one of her parties she held every year. I didn’t want to go, considering I knew nobody who was going and we weren’t friends anymore, but I wanted to get away from my parents for a night, so I forced myself to go.

The party, unexpectedly, was very exciting and adventurous, and somehow I ended up being one of the last to leave the party.

She and I were in the pool together striking up a conversation for the first time in a year. While conversing I realized that she changed in a years time and was now a much happier person.

“It’s late, I better get going,” I had told her while stepping out of the pool.

“Awe really? Okay, well thanks for coming!” she smiled, throwing me a beer and I (surprisingly) caught it.

“Of course. Thanks for inviting me. Honestly, I didn’t think you would.”

“Jane, I know our friendship ended badly, but you’ll always be one of the best friends I’ve ever had.”

“Hey can I tell you something?” She had nodded and I continued, “I’m really proud of how far you’ve come, and if you ever need anything I’ll always be here for you.”

Two days later she was texting and driving on a bridge, hit a car at a fast speed, and her car fell off the bridge with her still inside of it. She didn’t survive the crash.

It was very painful attending her funeral, but I am very lucky my last words to her weren’t “I don’t want to be friends anymore,” and instead more kind, heartfelt, and honest.

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“It’s okay Camper, Momma and Dadda get sick too – you are being very brave, now get some sleep, I love you.”

My two-year and nine month-old son, who’s name was Camper, had the best day of his life on Saturday. Two birthday parties – one at the beach and one at his cousins’ house with great friends and family.

The following day, he woke up with a headache. He was very smart and well spoken and told us (my wife and I) that his head hurt in the morning. We assumed he was probably a little dehydrated and just not feeling the well from all the cake and party action on the previous day.

My wife had to see clients that day, so I spent the day with Camper. We watched the movie A Bug’s Life, but he was throwing up and napping throughout the day. I just thought he had a general sickness. My brother-in-law was a pediatrician at the time, so he advised us to make sure Camper stayed hydrated with some Pedialyte. We did that, then put him down for bed that night, which is when I said, “It’s okay Camper, Momma and Dadda get sick too – you are being very brave, now get some sleep. Sweet dreams. I love you.”

And to be honest, I don’t really know if I said “I love you” – I regularly tell my children that, but for the life of me, I cannot exactly remember. It feels better to think that I did, even though he knew that anyway. I told him a few times throughout the day that he was being brave, because he didn’t cry or complain at all.

He never woke up from that final sleep. We ended up taking him, unresponsive, to the trauma room that night. He had an undiagnosed brain tumor that I guess just slowly grew as he got older. Slow enough that his brain could adjust and we never once saw any symptoms. And finally, on that day, it ruptured an artery in his brain and that was the end of his very bright, very full, very short life.

EDIT: I just wanted to add a couple things. First, I’m a very private person and was torn sharing this story with the public. But, when I saw the question, I felt compelled to answer, so I’m sticking with it. All of your well wishes are very kind and helpful.

Also, I wanted to add that we were able to donate Camper’s very healthy heart to a little girl that now gets to live on. We know that Camper’s time on this earth was short, but very impactful on many lives.

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Empo, my mother’s aunt, has been living with our family for thirty years. She died of stroke early last year. She was 90 years old.

I almost didn’t say goodbye. It was eleven at night, and our flight to Japan was in six hours’ time. If I wanted to say that I was leaving, I had to knock on her door that very instance.

‘She would already be sleeping, wouldn’t she?’ I asked Mom.

‘No, she’s still awake,’ Mom said. ‘Go now.’

So I went down the stairs and knocked on her door. The stay-at-home nurse opened. Her room was already dark. Empo was laying on the bed, watching the TV. She noticed that someone had entered the room, and asked, ‘Who is it?’

‘It’s Ella,’ I said. I walked towards the side of her bed, leaning forward and placing my mouth right beside her ear.

‘Po, I will be going tomorrow for holiday,’ I said. ‘Be well, Empo. Eat a lot. Take care.’

Empo nodded and asked, ‘When going back Melbourne?’

‘January ninth,’ I said.

She nodded. ‘Well, then, enjoy the trip. Have fun.’ She put her hand on my shoulder and patted me. This was odd, as she was usually unhappy when we left her for the holiday. I kissed her left cheek and then her right, waving my hands and slowly closing the door to her room.

‘Be well,’ I whispered.

Empo had stroke when we were still in Japan. My parents caught a flight home right away, but my older sister and I weren’t able to get on an earlier flight. Empo never woke up from her coma. But my parents got there in time, Facetimed us and right after my sister and I said goodbye a second time, she passed away.

I almost didn’t say goodbye. But I’m sure glad that I did.

Did You Ever Witness Someone Throw Away Their Life?

I’ve seen this happen more than once. Once, when I was a Product Manager in charge of a product line we made the mistake of promoting an Engineer into Marketing. As soon as he put on that white shirt and tie he suddenly thought he was “somebody”. From a demure, curious Engineer he became an imperious Know-it-all who knew nothing and embarrassed himself. But then it got worse. He attended some day-trading seminar and now he was going to get rich overnight. He was on the phone with his broker constantly, buying and selling and never completing his assigned tasks. We had lost all respect for him.

But the worst came when we were sent to a trade show in Las Vegas. He showed up at the booth without a belt. Our management considered us under-dressed at the office if we wore sport coats instead of two piece suits and he was showing up to attend customers without a belt. Our manager was aghast. They sent him out to buy a belt. He missed the first four hours of the show. But it got worse. We were in Las Vegas and when the booth closed he hit the tables. He was there all night, losing money by the thousands. When the show opened the next day he didn’t show up for two hours and when he did show up it was in the same clothes. He was unshaven and reeked of booze. He looked like Hell and he was shaken. He had lost so much money he couldn’t think straight. The boss sent him to get cleaned up. He never returned. He went back to the tables. By the end of the show he had lost his house. He was a wreck on the plane going home. He had no idea what he was going to tell his wife. The following work day he showed up in his suit and tie – and the boss and HR were waiting for him. He was walked out within minutes. In less than a week he had lost all his savings, his house and his job. I never saw anyone so broken in so short a time.

Another time I worked with a crackerjack engineer who was a non-conformist. This was well-accepted in the company and is usually tolerated in most companies. But as the company’s fortunes waned he became more and more erratic. The company was in a death spiral and it seemed to affect him deeply. People were bailing left and right but he had been there for 17 years and it was his life. The products he built were like his children. He was way too invested in the ongoing success of the company and he railed against anyone and everyone whom he thought was impeding the success of the company. The problem was that the products were too weak, the competition too strong and the sales force too incapable. In addition, Management was absolutely clueless.

In a few short years we had spiraled downhill from well over 120 million dollars annually to about 20 million and falling fast. I was on my way out along with anyone who still had even half a clue – the writing was on the walls. There was no way to save this pig. And then we needed him to go onsite to talk to our last big customer, the one customer who was keeping the company solvent. He was needed to explain how we would incorporate the features they needed. In fact, there was never any plan to do what they wanted – we no longer had the ability to accomplish it and make a profit so the goal was to stall them or convince them why they didn’t need the features. But when we were all sitting around the table with the customer, on their site, and he was asked to speak, he said, “What the hell is wrong with you people? You’re suckers. We’re never going to make these changes. Ever. Get used to it.”

Did You Ever Witness Someone Throw Away Their Life?

I have never seen such a meltdown in front of a customer before. Silence reigned. What can you say after that? The meeting broke up. He was fired instantly – but he couldn’t understand why. When HR came to his office, he locked the door and refused to leave. We had to call the police. He had to be physically carried from the building. It was not a building with card-keys, but with a real tumbler lock and he had keys. We had to change all the locks on the building. He would try to enter the building through the loading dock and sneak back to his office and do work. The police were called more than once. His wife would come and take him away. When he couldn’t get in he would hang around the door with his big dogs and frighten the hell out of the employees. Legal action finally had to be taken. He was mentally destroyed. He eventually got a job as the most junior technician at some other failing company. He was no longer capable of functioning as the senior electrical engineer he had once been.

The Famous Ritchie Valens Flip Coin

February 3 marks the anniversary of the day Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson, and Ritchie Valens perished in a plane crash. You probably know the general outline of “the day the music died.” In early 1959, Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Ritchie Valens, and Dion and the Belmonts toured through the Midwest in what was called “The Winter Dance Party.” Also on the tour was Holly’s new back-up band, Tommy Allsup on guitar, Waylon Jennings on bass, and Carl Bunch on drums. Some of the performers were tired of traveling through the cold in an old bus that kept breaking down and that had resulted in sending Bunch to the hospital with frostbite. So Buddy Holly chartered a small plane for one of the trips. After their February 2, 1959 performance in Clear Lake, Iowa, three of the stars — Holly, Richardson, and Valens — boarded a three-passenger plane that took off in the early morning hours of February 3 for Fargo, North Dakota but soon crashed in a snow storm. All three were killed along with the pilot Roger Peterson, as the young rock and roll music industry lost three of its brightest stars. Although the story is familiar, there is still an ongoing question. Besides Holly, how did Richardson and Valens end up on the plane instead of the other headliner, Dion, or instead of Holly’s band members?