Last week we were shocked to hear about the death of an acquaintance in church. She was just an acquaintance to me, someone I nodded to whenever we meet. But she was a very close friend of my youngest sister.
As relayed to us, she was in the middle of a “Praise & Worship” rehearsal in church when she suddenly collapsed. She was immediately rushed to the hospital, but there was virtually nothing else they can do for her. When she collapsed, apparently three veins in her brain had burst. She was barely forty years of age. Her time was up before she knew it. I keep wondering, if she knew that she would die the following day, what would she be doing instead? Knowing how committed she was to her faith, she probably wouldn’t have deviated from her usual routine of practicing with the praise and worship team. She was doing something valuable to her.
Three months ago, another acquaintance at the Physics alumni group was rushed to the hospital immediately after landing at NAIA. He was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. We were alerted in our mailing list about his condition, asking for volunteers to donate blood. He died within a few days. He was a brilliant scholar, a graduate of UP and Stanford University. We mourned his loss. Indeed, there is no knowing when death knocks at the door. Stories like these shoot like an arrow to your soul, alerting you of your own mortality.
It has been almost a year since Daddy died, but images of him in his death are as vivid as yesterday. But in his death I learned as many lessons as when he was alive. Among these lessons is to value life above all, and to accept the limitations of life. We can plan our life the way we want it to be lived, but we will never know ahead when we will breathe our last. As with the fate of our dearly departed church member, I wonder how exactly my last moments would be.
It is with this constant reminder of the fragility of life that I trudge on day by day, savoring each one as if it were my last. It is with this ever-present acknowledgment of my limited time on earth that I eat, work, study, read, and play with my daughter.
After Daddy died, I became aware that if I were to do something valuable, there is no better time to start than NOW. I realized that if I were to do something at all, it must be something that I value and enjoy. For instance, I love making websites – so I revived the website which I started five years ago for an organization here in Tsukuba. I don’t really care much if other people appreciate what I do or not – the thing is that I am having fun doing it. Whereas before it disappointed me very much that people did not seem to appreciate it, nor even bothered to visit the site, now I just do it because it matters to me. This is the time given to me, and damn if I will not use it to the fullest. When you think of it that way, it seems very difficult to get mad at anyone for anything they’ve done, whether intended or unintended – they’re only doing what they can with their limited time, too.
The clock is ticking, and the race is on.