OF LIFE, DEATH AND THE THIN LINE IN BETWEEN
I have always heard it said that there is a very thin line between life and death. While I believe it to be true, I never really understood it, till I came close to crossing the line that separates life from after-life on Tuesday, 22nd October 2019.
I had just returned from work on a day I would describe as normal and busy. I had no health challenges nor was I expecting any. Apart from the weakness of the body that reminded me “it was time to rest” after a hard day’s work and the pains from the dental extraction I did the day before, I would consider myself physically fit.
I quickly took my delicious dinner and logged on to YouTube to watch my favourite TV Shows, Britain Got Talent. Watching Britain Got Talent was becoming a habit I was living comfortably with. Nothing melts my hearts like watching the golden buzzer moments. The reactions of the participants, the shocking surprises, the jubilation and the tears of joy that follows golden buzzers are always adorable to behold. I love ending my days with such positive vibes. And this night I was ready to enjoy the show, but something wasn’t clicking.
I felt hot internally and had serious discomfort. I couldn’t concentrate on a show that makes me smile, laugh and cry with the participants. I searched my mind for some answers, perhaps, any out of place experience during the day, but I found none. I was really getting restless. I opened up all my windows for more ventilation, but I didn’t feel any better. I sat quietly, steadied my breath and tried to listen to the rhythm of my heart. I noticed my heart slamming away at my chest vigorously like long time enemies settling their scores in a battle field.
Gently, I placed my right hand on my chest and muttered “it is well with me”, a ritual I perform whenever I am confronted by a dangerous situation. It always worked like magic. When performed, I would receive clarity of thoughts to handle whatever was facing me.
But this night, my ritual failed.
Obviously, all was not well.
The time was fast approaching midnight. My heart beat even faster. I was struggling harder to breathe. Voices roared in my head and my mind raced on my family, the people who love me, those I love, my dreams, plans for the future, my mistakes of the past and so on. And for the first time, I felt I was just one step away from crossing over to the great beyond. I was helplessly afraid!
Two bible verses remained on my lips. First was John 14:19 which says, because Jesus lives, I too will live. The second was Psalm 118:17, I shall not die but live and declare the goodness of the Lord.
I kept muttering them as I gently stood, dressed up and unlocked my doors. The night was obviously going to be long and I mustn’t face it alone.
I called my neighbor out and calmly explained my challenge to him, pausing at intervals to catch my breath. He understood my plight and quickly dressed up.
“We are going to the hospital right now”, he said.
I looked at my wrist watch, the time was 11:50pm. “What a night”, I muttered to myself.
We drove off and few minutes later we were knocking at the gate of the first hospital without response. We knocked harder and even banged on the gate, all to no avail. We drove off to another hospital, by which time, it was way past midnight. As we drove by the Club Road in Awka, known for its busy nightlife, I saw guys and ladies standing at different corners. Some were in pairs and others alone. I wondered why they chose to expose themselves to the dangerous forces of the night instead of going home to rest. All I wanted was to have a nice rest and there I was, exposed in the night, in a race for life, that I may see the breaking of the day.
We got to the second hospital and the nurses on duty were having some kind of midnight devotion. One of the nurses opened the door and welcomed us. After explaining the situation to her, she ran upstairs to call the doctor. I listened to the words of their prayer. They prayed for protection through the night, asked GOD to grant healing to all the sick, especially the sick people under their care. I immediately felt at ease. “This is my kind of hospital”, I thought.
Few minutes later, I met with the doctor and narrated my experience to him. He asked few questions and prescribed some drugs and injections. After administering the prescriptions, I opted to sleep over at the hospital under a close watch of the health experts.
Lying on my bed, now relaxed and fine, I tried to make sense of all that happened that night; the racing heartbeats that has become normal, the manual breathing that has switched back to automatic and the internal restlessness that has suddenly disappeared. I tried to make sense of them all, but nothing.
I spent the rest of the night fighting off mosquitoes, drifting between sleep and wakefulness and thanking God for life.
More appointments with a cardiologist in days to come and the medical tests that followed proved I was fine and healthy. But that night? A puzzle!
What if I had closed my eyes and opened them in after-life? What if stopped breathing or my heart stopped beating? What if I d..d? I even fear to say the word. But isn’t that a reality that awaits all mortals? What if my soul appeared before the judgement throne, where would be my final destination?
And you, what if you are the next in line to cross over to the great beyond? Where will you be, eternal bliss or eternal tears!
While I don’t intend to preach you into holiness, I only wish to remind us of the humanity in us. I wish to draw our attention to the vanity of life, the mundanity of materialism and the ephemerality of the fleeting pleasures of life. The only thing that makes our lives worth living is the love we show one another, the sacrifices we make for the other person to smile and the forgiveness we show for peace to reign. Show more love to your neighbour whenever you are opportune to. Even when you are not, create the opportunity and show some love.
That night on my hospital bed, I wished I had loved more and sincerely too. I wished I had given more, tolerated more, forgiven more, condemned less and praised more. I wished I had touched more lives. And now, I thank God for a second chance! At least, if I cannot help anyone, I promise not to hurt them!