At 10pm yesterday, my wife and I received the bad news that a dear friend of ours was being admitted straight to the hospital after suffering a severe stroke. Less than 40 minutes later, we were called again and were told that Fr John Doe* died.
After losing my dad at the age of 18, news of friends’ or relatives’ death had a much less heavy toll on me. I’m not boasting. In fact, I think I’m only stating the obvious.
The news of Fr John Doe’s death, however, left me aghast and bewildered for quite some couple of hours. Not only because we spoke just the day before (where he looked as fine and as normal as any sixty-year-old (ish) person would) but mostly because I felt grounded: the fact that life could change so quickly… end so quickly.
We all spend our lives constantly chasing our dreams, monitoring our fears, and developing and working on our relationships. More often than not, we live our lives as though we were immortals. We easily forget how death could well be behind the next corner. This is only normal, I’m not patronising anyone! I’m sure Fr John Doe too had his own share of dreams, fears, life plans and goals; most of which included his relatives and friends. I knew him for the priest he was, and how he relied on Christ to help him carry his crosses and preach the Gospel – by his actions more than his words.
I felt so belittled by the realisation that life – including mine – and everything tied to it could all be taken away so swiftly. That one day, I will shut my eyes and not open them again. Mind you, I do not write this in a negative tone. On the contrary, it served as a reminder of how useless it is to stay pondering on when death will happen. What is more important, however, is to ask ourselves what to do with our lives until death-day arrives. It reminded me that the questions should never be Why, but What.
What am I doing with my life? What are you doing with yours?
After all, Coolio – the American rap singer – was right: ‘death is but a heartbeat away.’
*John Doe is used to reserving the person’s identity, whom I am sure is resting in peace 🙂