2 Years Ago, I Almost Died, And This Is What I Learned

by Kathy Soppet
Originally Published: 
A blonde woman smiling with a beer in her hand following a near-death experience.
Kathy Soppet

It’s a brisk February morning. The chill in the air is minimal, but after a sixty degree day it feels freezing. A few snowflakes drop to the ground as I walk with my daughter. The kids are back in school after two snow days so there is much activity. A few dogs accompany their families on the walk, and we see a few bike riders pass on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail outside of DC.

It’s mornings like these that I treasure. Walking my children to school, talking and laughing along the way, saying hello to passing friends and neighbors. Life is fleeting, my children are growing so fast, time is so precious.

I come home to a quiet house, the silence is both welcoming and unsettling. I pet our bunny, Peanut, and hamster, Sebastiana, to remind myself that I am not all alone.

I think for a few moments about death as I watch a Xarelto commercial. Two and a half years ago, I almost died from multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. I am so grateful to be alive, but I am still haunted by that day. I am still trying to recover both physically and mentally.

I turn on my computer and look at the horrifying scandal at the Vatican and think about how many children were hurt and abused by those they trusted, I think about all of the immigrant children who have been taken away from their parents and placed in tent cities or worse by this administration, and once again I am reminded of the pain and suffering that others are going through. I sip my chamomile tea as thousands of people worldwide are struggling to find drink, food, shelter and clothing. A wave of guilt washes over me. It is often too much to bear.

I sit and pray for all those who are ill or struggling in the world. I pray for the world and for many people to find some peace.

We never know when tragedy will strike. We never know when our families will require assistance. We never know when our last day will come.

That is something that we all have in common. That is what makes us human.

I remember the tough times I have faced, and see the tough times many people in the world are experiencing, and I feel saddened.

Then I look up from my keyboard and witness the humanity, courage and love that always follow each and every tragic event. Each and every personal loss or trauma. In times of desperation we must look for the helpers as Mr. Rogers once said.

It is like a tide that ebbs and flows throughout our lives. Sometimes we’re up. Sometimes we’re down. But, hopefully we will have loving friends, family and community members around us as we tread carefully through this life.

There are constant reminders of the fragility of life. There are constant reminders of the heroes and helpers who help us pick up the pieces.

They are there without a moment’s notice. They are not there to seek accolades. They are just there to help.

If we all try to be like them, then our world will be a much better place.

When we are dying, we will embrace the love of those around us. When we are dying, we will think about whether or not we made a difference in other people’s lives. When we are dying, we will think: could we have done more? Could we have loved more?

The answer is always yes.

We can always do more to make ourselves and others happy. We can always do more to make others smile. We can always do more to help our neighbors who are without food, shelter or healthcare. We can always do more by standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Two and a half years ago, I almost died.

Each anniversary post-blood clots means so much to me. I raise a glass to old friends and new. l hug my family and celebrate that I’m still here. I try my best to appreciate each new day that I’m given. I try my best to help others however and whenever I can.

I think about what will happen when I die more often now after surviving my blood clots.

When I die, I know it will be with a clear conscience and a full heart. But that time is not now.

Now, it’s time to live.

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