Someone Else’s Near Death Experience Changed Me
I made my first post on Medium under the Bonnie’s Mixed Tape publication exactly a year ago, October 15, 2017.
In honor of the first anniversary of my writing publicly, I’m sharing one of my very favorite personal stories (with accompanying song, natch).
It’s one of the most defining moments of my life and altered me in such a profound way that I still feel its effects to this day.
Obviously being a parent, getting married (and divorced), and a number of other life events have been life-changing.
In fact, I suppose I should say one of those other experiences is my most transformative, but in some ways what I am about to share is the most impactful moment of my life.
Just a regular day. During my grad school days. I must have been 22 or 23.
I was far away from my friends and family. E-mail was still a few years away, so a letter or phone call was the only means of communication to connect me with that part of my life.
An old high school pal (I’ll call him “T”) called me on the phone. He was still in Florida and would call from time-to-time to catch me up on his and our mutual friends’ lives.
We chatted for a few moments when the conversation took an unexpected and dramatic turn.
T: You heard that Franni’s dying, right?
(Franni was a mutual high school friend of ours. In fact, he was a very dear friend of mine. Franni was in the Philippines working on his MD when he fell deathly ill.)
That moment felt like something out of a movie: I’m sure that T kept talking, but I didn’t hear another word he said for several seconds.
My mind reeled and everything stopped.
And this is why: I distinctly remember thinking to myself that I had never told Franni how important his friendship was to me, how wonderful I thought he was.
My reserved, shy, and introverted ways had prevented me from saying those things out loud. I had thought them, but I hadn’t shared them.
Furthermore, I realized how many thoughts I had about so many people in my life, but I was too timid to share them.
After that phone call, I decided that I was not doing that any more!
From that day on, I would tell people what I thought of them. If someone was kind to me or had reached out to me and I appreciated them or their thoughtfulness, I was determined to let them know. I would no longer let the opportunity pass.
I would seize the moment to speak those thoughts.
I am still introverted and reserved at times, but I have honored that promise I made to myself all those years ago.
As I reflect on that day and its impacts on me, I see that I might never have had the courage to write, to open myself up over the past year had I not learned that lesson over 20 years ago.
In any case, I’m sure that THAT life lesson is the key to why this song has always resonated so strongly with me.
Say it to me now…
Regardless of the exact phrasing, it’s a universal message:
Don’t squander your time; don’t withhold your love; trust yourself; embrace your friends, loved ones, your life, and your passions.
As a post script, I wrote a letter to Franni after my conversation with T. I addressed the envelope to a random Philippine hospital, never knowing if Franni received my letter.
Many, many months later I had the chance to speak with Franni and I learned that he had received it!
Franni just celebrated his birthday a few days ago. He is obviously the inspiration for this story, so I dedicate this very, very special song, Glen Hansard’s “Say It To Me Now,” for his musical birthday dedication.
An additional thank you to my greatest supporters, especially Brian Desloge whose encouragement inspired me to write in the first place. And for my many friends and family who have supported the creation of Bonnie’s Mixed Tape as well as my writing on P.S. I Love You and The Ascent.
And for my beloved Medium crew, including Jon Scott, Fierce Force 💃🏼, Jonathan Greene, Jeff Barton, Iva Ursano, Shannon Ashley, Eleanor Sweeney, Jeremy Roberts, Niki Marinis, Brian Brewington, Stephanie Jackson, Jodi Tandet, Dick Millet, and Deb Knobelman, PhD. Hat tip to the amazing Shani Silver and Heath ዟ.
Thank you for reading this story
I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. You using your time to read my work means the world to me — my sincerest thanks!