Fifteen years ago I walked into a hospital waiting room. It was too bright. Too open. Too clean. Too big. I remember seeing my uncle. It had a jarring effect. He belonged on the other side of the U.S. This wasn't his place. I remember hearing words come out of his mouth but they echoed in my jet lagged ears and took ages to get to my brain.
You missed him by five minutes.
That too bright waiting room suddenly got dark. I saw two pinpricks of light and felt myself falling backwards.
I missed seeing my dad alive by five minutes.
I'm not sure exactly what happened after that. Or how I got to the back of the hospital. I just kept hearing those awful words echo in my head.
By the time that sentence hung in the air, I went from a carefree 19 year old college girl, to a girl that now held the world on her shoulders. My family scattered and I was left to pick up the pieces 3500 miles away from home. I came home a different person. Numbed and jaded. Distant and scared. Everything changed.
I lost my father in just five minutes.
Life happens every day and we all take it for granted. Go hug your family and friends. Don't take them for granted. Tell then you love them. And remember, five minutes can change everything.