Life After Loss What Death Has Taught Me
When I was young, I never thought about death because it just seemed so far, far away. Then my Dad passed away when I was in my last year of high school. This year my husband passed away. These deaths of my loved ones were like a wake up call, and have certainly changed and shaped my life in many different ways, but today I want to talk about my own near death experience.
No, I am not dying, at least not to my knowledge, but I almost died one month ago.
The day after I came back from Paris, it was about 90 degrees and my pool was all fixed up and looking amazing. The solo trip had given me so much confidence and I felt that there was nothing I could not handle. So, I went swimming by myself. I don’t really know how to swim. I know the basic strokes, but I had to put my head under the water, holding my breath to swim. As you can imagine, at some point I need to stand up and poke my head out of the water to breathe.
My late husband bought me a few diving toys to help me practice so I threw them into the shallow end of the pool, just like we used to do. The water was a little chilly, but felt pretty good. I did a little bit of a warm up and then swam from the shallow end to the deep end (it is about 8 or 9 feet deep in the deep end). I can open my eyes when swimming no problem, so I grabbed the edge of the deep end to stop myself and then poked my head out to breathe.
I was a little bit out of breathe, but I was feeling quite good. After a short break, I swam back to the shallow end. By that time, all the diving toys were slowly moving to the deep end, and I knew there was no way I could dive that deep to get them out. So, I dove to the middle section of the pool to rescue them before they went too far. I picked up one and then tried to pick up the second one. I suddenly lost my balance and felt as I was pulled into the deeper end.
I am only 5 feet tall, so I was completely under the water. I saw a beautiful blue sky and the air bubbles from my mouth through a few feet of water above me. I needed to land somewhere so I could position myself to start the strokes. So I stopped panicking, struggling, and moving and just stayed still. My toes felt the bottom of the pool, but it was not enough to kick myself up and poke my head out of the water. My legs and arms were moving very fast, but I was going no where. “This is not a joke, not a dream, I may die today in my own backyard.” This thought so vividly went through to my mind.
I continued struggling under the water. Somehow I turned my head and I saw 3 small stairs on the wall. I suddenly remembered them there for the diving board that used to be on the pool, but it was still quite far from me. I used all my strength to paddle and finally after a while I reached the lowest step. When I finally poked my head out of the water, I realized how good it felt to be able to breath again.
After a hot shower, I felt better. When I was drying myself, I patted my belly and said “I almost lost you today. I need to take care of you better from now on.” That was the true awakening moment for me. Of course, along the way of losing loved ones I already knew what I should do, but I was so focused on the finish line that I failed to find the joy in the journey. Since that next day, I have been cooking myself healthy meals everyday. I make sure to eat 3 meals a day and don’t stay up late. I even started my gym journey to get more healthy. I also spent more time with family and friends. I even discovered that I REALY love people. Lol. I love talking to others, even strangers and listening to their stories.
So, what has death taught me? I think I finally understand how to live in the present and simply enjoy what I have at this moment in my life – a sunny day, my beautiful gardens, a beautiful song, good food, good company and a good time. You may ask, what about your fashion dreams? I do enjoy my blogging, but I am not going to kill my health anymore like I always do to chase after it, because life showed me, every breath could be my last one.
Photos credited: Grace Liang/Yun Bai
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