The Recognition of Mortality

Brian - Commerce, Michigan
Entered on November 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Hearing the hoarse tone in my father’s voice, as he was suffering a heart attack, chilled me to the bones. It was his heart attack that has caused me to believe in living life while acknowledging your time on this Earth could come to an end at any moment. To some this might come off as depressing or discouraging, and until recently, I would have agreed with them. However, the experience of my father having a heart attack has led to my acceptance of this belief.

Returning home from a friend’s house, I opened the front door to find my mother frantically running around with the phone attached to her ear. After running upstairs to wake my sister up, I became overwhelmed with emotion, falling to my knees asking God to protect my father.

When my father was eleven, his father suffered a massive heart attack and died one year shy of forty. At the age of sixteen, I felt the time had come, this was it, the cycle was about to continue, and the man who had taught me so much about life was about to die. He had helped me learn to respect myself, others, and life in general. The man who had taught me how to throw a baseball, ride a bike, and find my passion for blues guitar was about to die.

The minimalistic complaints I had posed towards my father in the past now filled me with self-disgust. Simple arguments over the minute facts of life now brought about feelings of guilt. Taking out the garbage no longer merited annoyance.

The piercing sound of sirens brought me out of reflection, and I rushed outside to signal the paramedics. Upon returning, I realized I had run outside into several inches of January snow without shoes. The true effects of adrenaline had been felt. I began to calm down as the paramedics stabilized my father and rolled him out on the stretcher. A man who I had always viewed as a symbol of strength had been reduced to a state of helplessness.

After driving to the hospital, I waited for any word on the condition of my father. Time passed very slowly as I stared at the sterile white walls, watching many other concerned families arrive in the waiting room. Relief was found when a doctor came and assured us my father would be fine. Fortunately, I was a member of a blessed family that day.

Since the time of this incident, believing any day could be my last has forced me to become an optimist. Life is too short to allow the stresses of being human to become overwhelming. I believe acknowledging life can end at any moment is important because I will never know when my last hug, my last kiss, my last dance, my last family meal, or the last “I love you” will arrive.