A brush with death is a reminder to appreciate life

Yesterday, my family and I got one of those dreaded phone calls no one ever wants to receive: ‘Your brother was in a serious accident at work… He’s been hospitalised.’

He had fallen three storeys and, while deep down I feared the worst, I did what I always do in these situations: I turned into a logical machine. I checked if everyone who needed to know knew, booked a cab, got to hospital, asked everyone if they wanted coffee. Anything to stop the wave of emotions that could come crashing in at any moment; anything to ensure that emotions didn’t stop me from being useful.

Things got done and when there was nothing left to worry about, the reality of the situation hit me. It’s terrifying how quickly the world as we know it could change. It’s shocking just how quickly the people we love could be gone forever, without so much as a goodbye or a head’s up. Thankfully my brother is stable and should make a full recovery, however, the repercussions will linger for quite a while, particularly with someone like me, whose reaction to stressful events is to sever ties, shut people out, quit my job and become a bartender somewhere in the Caribbean. Anything to not risk getting hurt or feel like I’m wasting a single moment doing something I don’t want to do.

But then things calm down and what remains is the realisation that there’s a lot to be grateful for; that the initial reaction to stop ourselves from feeling is the opposite of what we should do in these situations. After all, a life worth living needs to have ups and downs, happiness and sadness. Comparison is what helps us understand what’s good and what’s not.

So, I’ve resolved to take what happened yesterday as a lesson to allow myself to worry less about what might hurt or what might be lost (unless it’s trees or heritage) and focus more on the good there is now. Because when things do end – and they inevitably will – it’s the good times that will have made the whole journey worth it.