‘It isn’t possible to love and part.’
In my last personal note from May 2019, I spoke of the Big Bad Wolf:
“Here’s the thing. We don’t know when the Big Bad Wolf will come to our doorstep, but we all know that he will come one day. And when he does, we also know that straw homes and stick homes will not keep our loved ones safe.”
Like most of you, we now realize that the Big Bad Wolf appears in many shapes and sizes. Also like most of you, I have watched the news, read the articles, heard from experts, and have tried to make as much sense of the world around me.
We have officially gone off-script.
I have received many calls and have spoken to many of our estate planning clients — the nurse who is still ill-equipped, the doctor who has been working a week straight, the plumber who had to make an emergency house-call in the middle of the night, the teacher who is mailing homework out to each and every student, just to keep teaching on the fly, the local grocer who is opening up for seniors at five in the morning.
Whether behind the scenes or on stage, the show still goes on.
The human spirit is an indomitable one. I am reminded of 9/11. Despite the shock and sadness around us, we were uplifted by the heroic actions of so many brave men and women giving hope to those around. Running towards the burning buildings. Towards the buildings.
The same is true now, just that our heroes have changed capes in this scene. That is the only difference.
No doubt, the current challenge with the virus is going to be ugly in all its forms. But unlike any other disaster (an earthquake, a tornado, 9/11, the Titanic), there is one saving grace here — and that is that you can follow instructions, stay home, wash your hands, and you should be fine. Thankfully, many of us are given this choice, and I hope we don’t complain too much or too loudly, because many of us are not given this choice, and in any other crisis, none of us is ever given this choice. So let us all be grateful.
But what should not be overlooked is another poignant lesson from 9/11 that my friend and fellow colleague, Marc, reminded me of a few years ago in his blog post. And that is that when victims were faced with an awful situation where they knew they were in the final moments of their life, when they knew that their time was up, and they had only a few moments or seconds to do something, what did almost all of them do?
Regardless of their race, their religion, or their economics, each of them, without question, during that final moment, chose to spend their last few moments picking up their phone.
Not to send a text. Not to scroll through social media. Not to check their work email. Not even to call their mortal enemy and tell them one last time how much they hated them.
No. In the end, the phone was reserved for what it was originally intended for — to hear the voice of a real person. The final call was simply to say, “I love you.” Nothing less. Even if it was a voicemail we left, it was enough to know that someone would hear it.
And that tells us something so very powerful about our species. That in the very final moments, nothing else will matter to us except who we loved the most. More than our paycheck. More than our possessions. More than our pride, and more than our prejudices, all combined. The single most important human act before the victims of 9/11 perished was to let another human being know that they loved them. Not even to ask, “Do you love me?” The final words were always, “I want you to know that I love you.” Who can say that love is selfish? Who says that anything matters more?
Money and power and greed and revenge? They don’t stick around for the curtain call.
“It isn’t possible to love and part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.”
-E.M. Forster, A Room with a View
As your family’s lawyers, we are grateful that we’re able to keep working for you during this time. We are grateful that we love what we do. And we are grateful that so many of you have trusted our firm in helping to write your life’s story.
Because that is what real estate planning is. It’s helping to write your life’s story and passing it to those you love the most.
To your family’s success,
p.s. In this newsletter edition, we discuss: