Essentially by coincidence, I found myself, just now, re-reading an old 2012 blog post of mine. I was moved by what I found. Not by my own eloquence or insight, but, particularly, by one of the two comments following the entry that I had not seen before. (I was traveling, back then, with only intermittent Internet access, and was very much distracted.)
The comment came from Richard Cracroft, the much-beloved former dean of my college, the BYU College of Humanities, who, in fact, was the person who hired me.
Dean Cracroft passed away in September 2012, and I never thanked him for his kind and supportive words. (He had also sent me a private email, somewhat longer but expressing the same general sentiment. Unfortunately, rather similar emails were pouring in between the end of June and the beginning of September. I fell behind, and I flatly missed it. I saw it only a few weeks after his funeral.)
I deeply regret my failure, however innocent it may have been, to express my appreciation to Richard.
I have analogous regrets in other cases. Most notably, I tried, a few years ago, to thank my high school German teacher (Lenore Smith), who had an absolutely pivotal influence on me during my teenage years. (I probably owe my passion for the German language, and for art and classical music, to her. She was, to me, a model of refined and cosmopolitan culture.) But, even though I contacted my California high school and eventually the Alhambra School District, nobody with whom I spoke knew where she was or could offer any helpful information.
Here’s the lesson, the “moral tag”: If there’s somebody — a family member, a friend, a teacher, whatever — to whom you feel that you owe an expression of fundamental thanks, do it now. He or she will appreciate it very much.
Don’t wait. The opportunity may disappear unexpectedly soon. And you’ll regret it.