“Yes, you can lose somebody overnight. Yes, your whole life can be turned upside down. Life is short. It can come and go like a feather in the wind.” –Shania Twain
Photo Source: Google images
It was 5 years ago. I was still in college. And what was a typical Tuesday turned into the most unforgettable day, in the worst possible way, in the lives of all Haitians across the globe. Since then, I haven’t spoken to a single person of Haitian decent who did not lose someone during this terrible tragedy. It was a catastrophe that destroyed so much and killed so many but still the nation manages to be of good spirits. We are a resilient people and that is one of the top reasons I am so proud to be Haitian.
This post is meant to be a bit more personal than what I usually share on here and it also has nothing to do with fashion. However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share how this catastrophe affected me personally to hopefully inspire at least one of you with the lessons I learned as a result.
The story starts May 12th, 1987. 10:30 PM, I came into the world. Fifteen minutes later, in the same hospital, my cousin was born. From birth, we just knew we were twins, just from different mothers. We looked alike a bit. We lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same kindergarten. We celebrated all of our birthdays together and even had matching dresses in some of these birthday pictures. We attended dance classes together. Went to church together. It was a sisterly bond that was never to be broken…
Years later, I moved to the states and she remained back home. Whenever I visited, we would catch up but we never kept in touch much once I returned to the US. Every birthday that came around, I always thought of her but never actually took the time to give her a call. It is something I will forever regret because it never dawned on me that one day, she would no longer be here and each and every one of our birthdays will forever be a reminder that there was once a sunrise in my life that set way too soon.
It has been hard trying to forgive myself for not keeping in touch with her. I can’t even remember our last conversation. I never would’ve imagined that the last time I saw her would have been the last time I spoke to her. She was still supposed to be here to celebrate our 28th birthday in 5 months but instead here we are, thinking of her in the past tense, commemorating the 5th anniversary of her death.
When I got news that buildings were collapsing with people trapped inside and many people had died, I never imagined she would be one of the victims. A friend who was with her told her mother after the fact, that my dear cousin knew she wouldn’t make it because she couldn’t breathe under the rubble. She sent her mother a goodbye message via that friend. I still remember the moment I heard. I still remember the tears her mother shed when she saw me for the first time after it happened.
Every time her mother lays eyes on me, she sees her child and her whole demeanor changes. I can’t quite tell how it is that she feels but I would understand if she’s angry because her child didn’t do anything to deserve to die at 22 years of age. I would understand if she’s sad because she gets to watch me grow into a woman while her only daughter is six feet under. I would also understand if she wishes she never saw me again so that I don’t bring back such vivid memories of her late child. I have wanted to call her so many times to utter a word of encouragement but I always refrain from doing so because something tells me it would do more harm than good.
On the other hand, this story is a personal reminder that God isn’t finished with me yet. I have a purpose. I have today to leave my mark in the world. It may simply be by landing a hand to someone in need, by writing a word on this blog that pushes someone to make a change in his or her life, or perhaps by simply being kind and compassionate to everyone, always.
We always say that tomorrow isn’t promised and that we should live every day like it is our last but do we really understand the depth of these words? If you knew today was the last day you’d see your mother, wouldn’t you have hugged her a little longer? A little tighter? If you knew today was your last day on earth, wouldn’t you have let go of your ego and call that one person you’ve despised for years? Wouldn’t you have forgiven your sister? Wouldn’t you have taken a leap of faith? Wouldn’t you have loved a little harder? Wouldn’t you have set your pride aside and extend an apology – if today was your last day…?
I have had to live with the regret of not reaching out to someone who meant so much to me and if I had the chance today, I would have hugged her tighter, I would’ve told her that I loved her, I would’ve called her on every birthday. I would’ve, could’ve, should’ve but didn’t and I have no one to blame but myself…
So if today I can inspire you to pick up the phone and make it right with whomever you think of while reading this, please pick up the phone. Don’t delay another second, or another day. Today may be your last. Tomorrow may be theirs. So instead of making resolutions we will forget come February 1st, how about we make the decision to live life to the fullest and with a clear conscience? We say the next second isn’t promised so how about we live like it? Let’s make it a mission to stop living life in fear, to stop procrastinating, to love harder, to forgive quicker, to be more compassionate. I dare you to live like today is your last because who wants to spend an eternity asking “what if?”