Chirag Desai

Close encounters


Take a minute and remember, life is fragile.

I received the call June 27. A close friend had suffered a brain hemorrhage the previous day.

The shock has still not left me. Her voice still rings in my ears from our last call, making plans to meet. Her family stands around her, praying for the miracle. Her brother, also a close friend, has not left her side as she fights.

It took three days before I would break under the weight of the situation, and will take many more before I will come to terms with the shock.

I think the fragility of life is something we all deal with. Whether it comes because of our own experiences or others, we are often jolted into reality by instances like these.

What if.

I remember a poem called Leisure from my childhood rather distinctly; its words still stuck in my head all these years:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

I think we are mostly aware that we take life for granted from time to time. Things are set, there is a routine, and we forget that it takes one thing to change it all.

I suddenly feel very conscious of everything around me, the activities, the people. This all still feels a little surreal, like I’m going to wake up in the morning and everything will be as it was June 26.

Realizing life can be fragile is not fun. Millions wonder what happens to us after we pass; but I think what has stood out for me over the last few weeks is watching the impact we have on people around us while we’re here. The pain caused cannot be described in words ofcourse, but it is remarkable to hear the stories, the smiles shared among friends and family, the sorrow of maybe an unpleasant conversation, the longing for that one last meeting to happen, the impact of a lovely person.

I learnt.

I learnt to stop and stare.

I learnt, even more, to tell people I care.

At D8, one of the last major appearances of Steve Jobs, he was asked if he would add anything to his famous Standford Commencement Speech of 2005. He responded:

…probably I would just turn up the volume on it, because the last few years have reminded me that life is fragile.

To RN, we are all right by your side. You’ve had a profound impact on the lives of people who met you, and on a lot of people who didn’t. Over the last couple of weeks, we have admired and shared stories of things you did, day in and day out, admiring and valuing life — people and animals alike.

I pray for you every day.