Fourteen Days and Motorcycle Crash
(What to Do If You Only Have 14 Days to Live)
I got hit by a motorcycle exactly a week ago.
Two weeks before that, Bo Sanchez, founder and leader of the Light of Jesus Family, asked one question during a retreat: What if you only had 14 days to live? What would you do with it?
At the time, during the retreat, I was honest with my answer: “I don’t know.”
Because I honestly can’t imagine having only 14 days left. Looking back, I guess it was because I felt as if I had a long life ahead of me. If I was really pushing it, I’d have said I felt kind of invincible. Immortal, even.
I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that my days would be numbered. I mean, I’ve always known that every one dies. I’ve always known that I would also die. Just… not soon.
So it was hard for me to imagine having only 14 days left.
But last Tuesday happened. I got hit by a motorcycle, and in those few moments between the hit and the fall, I honestly thought I was going to die.
It was raining that night, and the streets were dark. I walked the last few blocks home because the usual route I took didn’t have any free jeepneys. I remember checking twice before crossing the road, before stepping off the sidewalk, and out into the street. I remember letting two motorcycles pass by, and I remember thinking that the next car was still too far. I remember stepping off the sidewalk, and I remember walking towards the other side of the road.
And then I remember being hit.
I remember where it hit me — it hit me hard on my left side.
I remember the shock. The disbelief.
I remember the quiet before the crash. The stupor before the shouts.
I remember waiting. I was waiting to be run over. I was waiting for the pain.
And, if I’m going to be honest with myself, I remember waiting to die.
But I didn’t die.
Sprawled on the ground, I realized two things:
1. It was just a motorcycle.
2. I was alright.
I remember going into shock, and I remember being sprawled across the ground, the motorcycle heavy on my side. It fell on top me.
I was hit. I fell. But I was alive.
In the background, cars screeched and people stopped to help. There were probably five — or six, or seven, or ten, I don’t know anymore — people who came over and helped me up. And when I finally came to my senses, my eyes roamed the area and it didn’t stop until they landed on the person who I somehow knew was driving that motorcycle.
He was slightly limping, and he had a small wound on his right foot. His rubber slipper was torn, and he was just as shocked as I was.
He wanted to blame me, but I spoke first. “Saan ka galing? Tumingin ako, wala ka naman.“
“Bumusina ako,” he said. He, too, was in shock.
“Bumusina ka nga, pero tinamaan mo na ako. Hindi ka huminto, hindi ka nakatingin.”
And then a guard stepped in and said, “Mabilis ka masyado magpatakbo. Nakita kita, ang bilis mo.”
And then people started talking at once. Go to the barangay hall, they said. Report him, they said. He was too fast and he didn’t have a helmet on, they said. Ask for his license — do you even have a license? (He didn’t show one). Bring her to the hospital, someone said. No, go to the police first, someone insisted. Hospital first! someone said. Sorry, miss, the driver kept saying. Sorry po, hindi kita nakita.
They kept talking, but I just wanted to come home. I was still reeling over the fact that I could still come home. That I could still stand, and walk. And, in spite of the broken headlights of his motorcycle, and despite him taking a long time before he could run it again, I was still alive.
He kept apologizing and I kept telling him to just go, because all I really wanted was to come home.
I snapped at him, told him to be more careful and look where he’s going, and what if he got us both killed? He apologized again, and I sent him home.
The night didn’t end there. My family brought me to the Emergency Room to make sure nothing was really broken, and, praise God, nothing was. I had a few laughs, too, because the signs clearly said, “One companion per patient”, and I had an entire family with me. I wasn’t just saved — I was truly blessed. Alive with a family wreaking havoc in the emergency room… what more could I ask for?
I had a few big scrapes that would probably scar, and I was advised to rest for a few days, but I survived. I had an ugly panic attack that night, because I kept remembering that dreadful moment every time I closed my eyes, but I got through that too, with the help of my Mama.
I got hit. I thought I was going to die. But I didn’t.
And in those two days that I was confined in my room, I suddenly remembered Bro. Bo’s question: What if you only had 14 days to live?
In those moments between the hit and the fall, I thought I didn’t even have 14 seconds. What would I do with the 14 days?
It hit me then: I was given a new lease on life.
And wasn’t the first time I got in an accident. Last October, I had a bad fall that had me walking with a sprained ankle for weeks. A few months before that, in May, I was rushed to the Emergency Room because I tripped on a dead branch, and a long, sharp twig got embedded on my toe. I was also incapacitated for a few days.
A year or two before that, I slipped down the stairs in Rustan’s Supermarket and had to be rushed to the E.R. to make sure nothing was broken. Nothing was.
And in 2012, I was in car accident along SLEX that left my car in a total wreck. I didn’t even have a single bruise on me.
How many times in the past was I able to escape grave injury? Or even death? And each time I got in an accident, I think I’d probably have shaved a few years off my mother’s life, because how terrifying could it have been to always, always have to answer the phone and hear, “Mama, na-(insert accident here) po ako.”
Mama always reminds me how blessed I am. After I survived that car crash many years ago, Mama couldn’t even look at me for a week without crying. Mabuti na lang, mahal ka ni Lord, she said, when she could finally string an entire sentence without choking up.
My guardian angel always worked over time for me. I think he’d probably hit me a few times when we finally see each other in heaven, as revenge for always giving him a hard time guarding me.
The thing is, I could have died times many times in the past before, but each time I got in an accident, God would say, “Nope. Not today,” and send an army of angels to get me out of trouble.
Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.
One more day. One more chance. One life.
So maybe I don’t have just 14 days. I probably have 14 months. 14 years. 14 decades. If that’s even possible.
Maybe not. I don’t know anymore how long I have.
But suddenly I’m not so invincible anymore. I’m not immortal anymore. I have a limited number of days.
And what am I doing with my life?
Sure, I do things for the ministry. I share my gifts to others. I serve. I do love my family and try to spend as much time as I could with them. I also do things that make me happy. Don’t event get me started on my dreams, because no matter how many breaks I take, I still pick up the pen and work on my passion project.
Last year, I’ve stopped dreaming about the future and started making the future happen. Anything and everything I wanted to have and wanted become, I’ve begun. The past year has taught me how important the present is. I’ve trained myself to stop dreaming, to stop wanting, and to start being.
I’m not wasting my life away, I’m sure of that. But I know in my heart that I’m still wasting so much. So much time. So much energy. So much thought. So much emotion. So much resources.
So I spent two days in isolation last week, healing, praying, reflecting, and thinking of a proper answer to the question posed a few weeks before. If you had 14 days to live, what would you do?
Bro. Bo had an answer during the retreat: Do things that truly matter. In the end, what matters? Your money wouldn’t matter. Your pride wouldn’t matter. Your fears wouldn’t matter. Your possessions wouldn’t matter. What would it matter? Only one thing matters, and that is love.
Two weeks before the accident I couldn’t imagine putting myself in a situation where nothing else would matter except love.
In the moment of the accident, one thing mattered, and that was my breath.
In the days following the accident, I think I began to truly have an answer.
If I had 14 days left to live, I’d write more, and I’d love more.
Because those are the two things that truly matter to me.
I’d write more stories.
I’d write more beautiful words.
Because writing for me is love. Writing is loving. Writing is giving joy. Writing gives me joy. It gives other people joy. Writing is giving hope. It gives me hope. It gives other people hope. Writing strengthens my faith. Writing strengthens the faith of others. Writing is loving. Loving is writing.
I’d love more. I’d love my family more. I’d love my friends more. I’d love community more. I’d love my ministry more. I’d love other people more.
And then slowly, the becoming became the being.
It’s no longer “I would love more.”
It became, “I must love more.”
Until finally, “I am loving more.”
I’d write more became I must write more.
And now I’m writing more.
(And reading more, if that’s even possible.)
Before I end, I have something to ask you.
What would you do if you have 14 days left to live?
Don’t wait until you have only 14 days left to live. Do it now. Whatever you’re planning.
If you want to be a writer, write now.
If you want to start a business, start now.
If you want to quit your job, maybe don’t quit now, but start preparing for it now.
If you want to give talks, talk now.
If you want to become, be.
Because we don’t know how many sets of 14 days we actually have.
In the end, only love matters.
And the question is, how would you love? Where would you love? And who would you love?
Fourteen Days and Motorcycle Crash was originally published on PROJECT: BEAUTIFUL WORDS