Friday 5th November was one of those idyllic days. The sun smiled. Good things happened. We signed two lucrative bookings for our guesthouse, and accomplished a whole lot of other things at work. We visited friends, in the evening, and swapped stories with them.
We drove home happy, fulfilled, mildly tired. Three kilometres from home, a kid in a rustbucket Volkswagen Golf came around a sharp bend on the wrong side of the road. At speed. There was a head-on collision – a screaming of brakes and tyres, the tortured screeched of metal being twisted and bent, a high velocity impact. My wife and I pitching forward towards the dashboard.
It was all over in less than two seconds. The other driver was incoherently drunk, eyes glazed over, unable to stand on his own when we pulled him out of his car.
The dashboard, and the half dozen guardian angels on duty that night, looked after us. I sprained an index finger, and my wife had a small laceration to the knee, and a mild neck sprain.
The end result could have been vastly different. We could have been flung through the windscreen or crushed against the steering column. We could have lost an arm, a leg, the functioning of our brains, our lives.
The thought that keeps recurring is this – Friday 5th November might, but for a car dashboard and the guardian angels, have been my last day here, in this body. The events of the day keep on playing through my brain, like an old familiar movie. I repeat, to myself, words spoken by and to me, that day. I am remembering, right now, faces and voices that formed part of the sixteen odd hours that I was awake, alive, participating in the day.
What if it had been the last day? That is the question, the thought, that keeps on coming back.
It is a question, and one we need to ask ourselves, from time to time and in the middle of whatever it is we are doing. How would you live today, these hours, if they were your last?
In those minutes, fleeting as all minutes are, love and gratitude towards the ones in your inner circle, the ones who rely on and support you, would assume a new intensity. In those minutes you would use whatever talents you have, and wherever you apply them, with fierce strength and power, performing the duties involved in your life with vigour far beyond the ordinary. In those minutes you would laugh, embrace the things around you, and turn each and every conversation, act and perception of the day into a special one.
In those minutes, and hours, you would not focus much on your weight, wardrobe, overdraft or the inadequate salary increase you received last month. You would have no time for these trivialities – not when each minute is precious and there is so much else to life.
For me the events of Friday 5 November reinforce the truth that each day is a gift – a gift which we should use wisely and gratefully.