After hearing much critical acclaim for the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, we decided we would catch a matinee showing this weekend. It’s an interesting movie, full of lots of things to think about, but for the purposes of this blog I want to focus in on the actions of one particular character, the Chief of Police, played by Woody Harrelson.
Caution – minor spoilers ahead. If you plan on seeing the movie, and don’t want spoilers, please stop reading and come back later. You’ve been warned!
As the movie plays out, the audience learns not only about the death of Angela Hayes and her mothers attempt to get the local police to put in more effort to working the case, but also that the target of her wrath, Chief Willoughby is dying from cancer. He ultimately decides to take his own life rather than suffer a slow painful death in front of his family, but before he goes he writes what seems like one letter for everyone in the film. Much of the ending of the film plays out amidst people getting these letters and acting on them, or realizing more about how the Chief saw them and felt about them.
As I watched the ending play out I couldn’t help but wonder how many lives might have played out differently if he hadn’t waited until he was gone to say those words to the people who needed to hear them? Why do we not say the things that need to be said, whether it’s a reminder that you do care about someone, or a gentle encouragement to be better, or a show of support for someone struggling? Why must we wait until someone is dying, or already gone, to say those words?
If you knew you were going to pass away, and we all are ultimately, what words would you want to make sure people heard from you while they still could?
Why haven’t you already said them?