You can reschedule a dentist appointment if you’re running behind schedule. You can throw away that batch of burned cookies. You can get notes or meeting minutes from someone else if you’re late to class or to the office. You can pay the fee when you forget to send the check to the electric company, although it might involve getting your service turned back on depending on how long the bill was left forgotten along with the McDonald’s wrappers on the back seat of your car. You can be late, but it’s no big deal. Stuff happens.
Now, you can be “too late” to buy tickets to the Toby Keith concert. You are “too late” to send a baby gift after the child starts kindergarten. You are “too late” to be the designated driver after you’ve ordered your third mojito. “Too late” in these cases means just that – “too late.” It doesn’t mean “never.” Next time, you’ll be standing in line early enough to get those concert tickets, you’ll send that baby a nice high school graduation gift, and your friends will remind you that it’s your turn to be the DD as they hand you a diet coke.
Sadly, there are occasions when “too late” really is “too late.” A young man in Thailand put off making wedding plans with his girlfriend of ten years. He wanted to make sure he had a good income and solid prospects for the future before they tied the knot. But the future doesn’t always play out as we wish it would. Last week, the young woman died in a tragic accident, leaving behind her inconsolable boyfriend. The combined wedding and funeral he planned was heartbreaking. He slipped a ring on her cold finger and said those things he desperately wished he had said when she had been alive. Then he buried her. “Too late” meant “Never.”