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Snapshots icon the last word

How I Learned to Embrace Life

“We almost lost you…” Four simple words that sent my head into a tailspin and changed the way I look at life forever.

It all happened so quickly…the Emergency Room, the doctors, the needles, the IV, the urgency in the voices I heard as I lay there drifting in and out of consciousness. "Her pressure’s dropping," I heard them say. Turning my head I could see the monitor…83/36. Was I seeing things? Suddenly I was being wheeled down the long, white corridor on my way to the operating room. As I lay there, looking up at the brightness of the lights, the muffled voices of doctors and nurses grew fainter and fainter until there was silence.

And then I awoke, three hours after being in a surgery that saved my life.

Later in recovery, my doctor came to see me. His words shot through me like a bullet. "We almost lost you." They kept repeating themselves over and over in my head like a pounding migraine that just won’t go away. I looked at him, tears welling up in my eyes, "You mean, I almost died?!" Having always been one of those people who believed that bad things happen to other people, not me, the thought was unimaginable.

For days I couldn’t get those four words out of my head. "Why?" I asked myself. "Why didn’t I die? Why was I given a second chance?"

It’s been several months now since my life was tested, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about the tremendous gift I was given.

It amazes me how different I am now. I think differently. I feel differently. I even approach everyday little things differently. I thought I knew what was important in life before this happened. I didn’t even have a clue.

As much as I hate to admit it, I have always had difficulties not "sweating the small stuff." But I don’t anymore. When the driver in front of me doesn’t use his turn signal, I don’t get upset and yell. When my husband leaves dirty dishes in the sink I don’t get angry and give him the third degree. And when we don’t have time to tackle a household project I don’t stress myself out. There’s always this voice inside of me that asks, "Is it worth getting upset over? If I died tomorrow, would it matter?" The answer is always a resounding, "No!"

As we go through the rigors of daily life, we sometimes have a tendency to get caught up in the things that we don’t have and the things that we so desperately wish to obtain. More money, new cars, fancy jewelry, an addition on the house…

“I thought I knew what was important in life before this happened. I didn’t even have a clue.”

Yes, new things are great. I want them just as much as the next person. But I’ve come to realize just how unimportant all those materialistic things really are, and just how lucky I really am. I have a wonderful and caring husband, a loving and supportive family, a beautiful home and a job that I enjoy. I am lucky in ways that so many people are not. We don’t always think to be thankful for the things that we do have. But I do now.

The night before I was taken to the hospital I argued with my brother. It was a silly fight, as most disagreements between siblings are. But in looking back I’ve had to ask myself, "Had I died that night in the hospital would my brother have known how much I loved him?" Coming from a family that shows love and affection freely, I believe the answer is yes. But even having to question it for one moment has taught me a valuable lesson – tell the people you love that you love them. Tell it to them again and again. I sure do. You never know when the last time you get to say it may be.

Life is such a funny and unpredictable thing. One minute you’re enjoying Christmas dinner with your family and the next minute you’re lying on a gurney, writhing in pain and wondering what is going on inside of your body. I never really gave it much thought before, but it’s true what they say…life really is fragile. You never know what may happen tomorrow, and you never know how long you have here on Earth. But you can try to make the most of every day that you are given.

Before, I didn’t know the meaning of "living for today." I was always looking ahead, projecting into the future and worrying about things I have no control over. Seems pretty silly to me now.

– Jennifer P. Stoudt is associate director of college relations/communications and editor of The Albright Reporter.

reporter contents : : albright college