What’s really important in life

Madison, Nyree and Sara Johnson Melissa Mills Photograph March 2023.

The last two weeks have been a solemn reminder of what is really important in life.

A reminder that everything can change in a single instant.

One decision, one action, one wrong move and our world can be different forever.

The reality of our mortality brushes across our screens as we come together at the end of a long day.

The tragic loss of life in the Hunter Valley reminds us that not even the happiest moments are immune from tragedy.

While not personally connected to the victims or the families, it does not stop my heart from breaking.

While this isn’t the only tragedy we experience in our world right now, the circumstances and the relatability strike a chord.

The moments like these force us to stop and reflect on our own lives and think about the ones we love.

Our opportunity to recognise that interesting occurrence in which we move through life at times, forgetting that we are all heading to the same outcome.

It is an uncomfortable thought and not one I like to consider often, but it is our reality.

As a deep thinker and a feeler of feelings, I am forced to reflect and wonder why it is in these moments of tragedy and heartache that we then gravitate towards those we love inflicting hugs that are a little longer and a grip which is a little tighter.

Why is the busyness of our lives, jobs, and commitments distracting us from reality?

As a child, I would often lay in bed at night, panicked by the thought of not being here anymore.

Wondering where I’d go, what was next and if Heaven was all that it was cracked up to be.

Lucky to have attended a beautiful catholic primary school; faith is what got me through these moments of fear.

Faith and spirituality mean different things to different people; none of it is wrong.

If it brings comfort, tradition and belonging, our sense of belonging is enhanced.

As a young child, sometimes it wasn’t enough to get me through, and distraction needed to be activated.

As an older teenager and a young adult, I did some stupid things with cars and lost friends to completely preventable vehicle accidents.

While not involved in any of the accidents, it prompted me to pull my head in and move away from Rocky.

To break away from the cycle and figure out who I was. We all have those stories of silly things we did when we were younger, and while many of us live to tell the tale, what about those who don’t?

Or what about those whose lives have changed forever due to one decision, one choice and one action?

I can’t imagine the anguish that the guests, family and friends left behind after the Hunter Valley accident are feeling.

My heart breaks for them, and for those who lost their lives and are no longer with us.

They had jobs to go to, school to attend, friends to see and commitments where the importance now seems questionable; after all, what is it all for?

They say that one of the driving forces behind what we do in our lives and the decisions we make is because we all want to leave a legacy worth remembering.

We want to make a mark on this world in a way that feels right to us.

We know that life is short, but if you can leave behind a positive impact, your life and the impact you have lives on far beyond your years on this earth.

Since 2012 and 2018, after losing both of my grandmothers, I know that through the choices I make and the decisions I execute, there is a legacy that lives on in me from them.

While vastly different women, both of my grandmothers have influenced the person I am today.

Whether they taught me what to do or what not to do.

Sometimes, when I take the opposite path that they would have taken, it becomes more apparent that the legacy lives.

The courage and bravery to embrace the unknown or walk my own path are values they both instilled in me.

I often talk and write about my grandmothers because I never want their memory to fade.

I want my children to know how incredible they were in their time, recognising it was a time very different to now.

I want my grandchildren to know who they were and the impact on others they had.

The lessons they shared live on in me, and I carry their legacy.

There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t consider what they would have done or said in any situation I find myself in.

While it can be common for those who have passed to have their sins washed away from them by the living, I recognise their imperfections too, but it is balanced with a positive legacy.

Everyone we meet in life is a teacher.

They are either teaching us what to do or they are teaching us what not to do.

While our lives here on earth may be short and end abruptly and unexpectedly for many, it is during these moments of reflection, when local or world events catch our attention, that we realise what we have.

It is our reminder to hug for a little longer, laugh a little louder, love a little deeper, and remember what is really important.