My “What If” Life


Any person who has lost a close family member or had a traumatic life changing experience in their lives have had to struggle with the “What If” scenario. And in the light of recent events this “What If” sequence has again raised its head in my life.

Having lost my Dad and his brother in a terrible car accident at the age of 5 months old, I grew up with the thought in my head, “What If my Dad hadn’t died? How different would my life have been if he hadn’t gotten into that car?” And it was a notion that followed me as I got older, especially as the relationship between my ex step father deteriorated and my relationship with my mother was rocky at the best of times. “Would I still be in this situation if my Dad was still alive?”

I spent a lot of time through out my childhood fantasizing about how my life could have been different and what type of person my Dad was actually like. Most of what I knew about my Dad came from my grandparents as he was a taboo subject in our household and even at a young age I knew that often people remember the deceased’s best moments and the more difficult moments are glossed over and often forgotten about. When my Oupa (Grandfather) passed away, I was 11 and the sense of overwhelming panic and loss forced me to seek refuge in the thoughts that this may not have actually happened, that he had just gone away for sometime. One would like that this overwhelming sense to immerse myself into my “What If” life would go away as I got older but truthfully I often, at times of great sorrow, find myself back at its door, knocking and seeking refuge once again.

But as I got older it dawned upon me that I was lucky enough to realize that I didn’t allow my “What If” life to consume me and stop me from living in the “Right Now!” After the loss of so many people, who would have never wanted me to dwell on their deaths, I managed to make a life for myself as so many people do! Some people hold on to the past like it’s a rare coin. Unfortunately, the past does not go up in value the longer you hold on to it. In fact, the holding on to the past only devalues your current experiences. You can’t really have a fulfilling relationship now if you’re still consumed by what happened or what could have happened.

The moral of the story is even though life could have turned out differently to what it is now, don’t waste the gift of the present, don’t let the hurt of the past define you, let it bolster you and make you a better person! After all as William Ernest Henley wrote:

It matters not how strait the gate

How charged with punishment the scroll

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

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