“This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.” -Bertrand Russell
My son fell from a roof last week and just like that all of life was different. This is often how life catches us off guard; with accidents, health emergencies or just bad weather consequences. Suddenly all that we take for granted, that we hold as the fabric of our lives unravels in an instant. It is at once humbling and awakening, as we hang dearly to the thread that was just a moment before the colorful tapestry we thought was our own. We hang on, searching for something to believe in.
Even greater than the terror that filled me as I watched my boy being wheeled into an ambulance was the overwhelming amount of love that I have for him. When he saw me all the fear that he was holding in, flooded him in a panic. His fear, the impact of the trauma was too much for his injured brain to hold onto. In the hours that followed, the only phrase he could hear and that brought any comfort was my repeated chorus of “I love you.”
Thanks to my daily positivity quest, as I drove to the hospital following the ambulance I promised myself I wasn’t going to let fear lead me, I was going to follow love. Really, this is the only choice we ever make, even in the most mundane of circumstances. Our life choices and the results we create are always a reflection of whether we allow fear or love to guide us. Yet, nowhere is this more crystal clear than in the moments when time stands still or as we witness our beloved in the midst of intense trauma. These moments uncover our hearts, and provide direct access to how deeply we love.
Miraculously, my son suffered no cracked skull or brain bleeds from his 8 foot fall. The near misses in life, moments when we come so close to death’s door and are granted a reprieve are perhaps the most miraculous of all. They are the second chance we are graciously offered to wake up to the rich texture of our lives. We understand gratitude in a way that makes colors more vivid, landscapes more breathtaking, and relationships more vital.
In the days following his accident, our emotional life as a family had a tenderness and poignancy that we rarely live in. My son’s need to capture and organize what happened to him brought up many intense feelings. Trauma is rarely a singular experience. Everyone close to the person involved experiences some degree of loss and relief. Embracing these second chance moments as the opportunity to connect deeply and show up persistently for each other has the power to shift the long-term dynamics of how we relate to life and the people we love.
This is where the second chances become beginnings. It is common for people who come back from massive heart attacks, or recover from cancer, or slip through a trauma alive and well to embrace life with more clarity and intention than they ever had before. These stories make up some of the most beautiful aspects of human history and progress. Out of these beginnings are born countless efforts in fundraising and healing projects that have changed the world for the better for millions of people. Beyond the cultural advancement is the miracle of choosing love in your life’s relationships.
The truth is that we don’t need to actually have the near miss to choose a new path. Just close your eyes for a minute and imagine the person you love, even the ones that are challenging to love, on the brink of death. What would you say? What would you want them to know if it were the last thing they could hear you say? Cliché and trite as it may be, most people only need to hear that they are loved.