Some defining moments are gradual, bringing change little by little. Like when we noticed subtle changes in our emotions and bodies as we entered puberty. We didn’t become adults overnight. It took time. Yet, that season of change marked us, and whether we like to admit it or not, some of the ways we define ourselves today were shaped during those critical years.
Other defining moments crash suddenly into our ordinary lives and substantially alter the way we see and live life. On a September afternoon in 1971, one of those moments occurred and changed my world forever!
On that autumn afternoon, my 22 year old brother Dan was driving home from college when he failed to heed the warning lights at a railroad crossing in rural Nebraska. As a result, he slammed into the second car of the train as it crossed the road in front of him. He was hospitalized and the first prognosis was very hopeful. However, he suddenly passed away two days later from an undetected brain hemorrhage. His death turned my world upside down, devastated our family and my heart! Yet out of this trauma certain old patterns of life were replaced by sincere, heartfelt actions. His death brought decisions and definition regarding how I treated those I loved.
Here are a few of the outcomes:
I try hard not to take the people I love for granted. Today they are here with me, so I try to let them know I’m glad they are.
I savor the moments when we are together! When my family and friends gather, I sometimes drop out of the conversation so I can relish the moment, listen to their laughter and watch their interactions. Life really is a vapor.
I don’t assume they know I love them… I tell them I do. Our family didn’t do this well…. until after Dan was gone. This lesson was learned the hard way.
I try to always say “Good bye”, even if they’re simply going to the store. After a weekend at home Dan headed back to college and I waved at him as he drove down our street — I assumed he would come home the next weekend. He didn’t. I hadn’t said good bye. Good byes are very important to me!
Today I can look back and know my brother’s sudden death brought introspection and change to certain aspects of my life. I am truly grateful for the good that rose out of the depth of our loss!
Are there defining moments — whether gradual or sudden — in your lives that have resulted in changes for the better? Please share them here! I’d love to hear them!