A Knock on the Door

Live life so completely that when death comes to you like a thief in the night, there will be nothing left for him to steal.

A recent bout with an unexpected illness has brought to mind one of the fundamentals of frugality:  preparedness.

It was all so sudden. I was at the clinic and had a bout of cough. I had this cough and cold for few days. I didn’t take it seriously first. But then I felt like sweating and then, a vague discomfort in chest.

Just the previous day, I had done my 6 kilometer regular walk followed by an hour of swimming. And I have been walking and walking for the last fifteen years, and unusually fast. I never had any problems. And I never thought it would come to me.

I was lucky.

To have thought about it, for being a doctor that I could make the diagnosis myself, to be close to the hospital, to have some wonderful doctors to take care of me and above all, to have my daughter with me at that time.

My daughter would have passed this place in transit dozens of times in the last few years. But just this time, when I went to see her at the airport, she decided to let her husband to go on with the trip and stayed back with me. We spent few days together and were supposed to take the flight home the same evening.

Do things happen for a reason? I have no clue why my daughter decided to stay back with me. And why it should happen in the morning time, when all the doctors were ready and available. When I was at the hospital, I had wondered if it had happened during my travel or at somewhere else with no access to a hospital. That is the luck I call the grace of God.

Looking back, I don’t think I was frightened. My daughter was with me all the time. And then our friend Christine who was such a blessing at that time. There was a kind of numbness about the whole episode. While I was lying on the hospital bed, many thoughts had passed my mind.

Mostly people whom I wished I could see and bid farewell before I left. Those I wanted to stay in my eyes before it closed forever. Things I had forgotten to say to some one. Apologies, which were long pending.

Here's the truth of things: if you ever had to face death, you have been brought face-to-face with the realization that tomorrow is promised to no one. This awareness can help you keep in mind what is important in life, so you don’t get lost in trivial matters and lose sight of those things that are most important to you.

It is ironic but one consequence of such sudden event is that it can make you appreciate life more than you ever would have if you had not undergone such an experience.
There is nothing like suffering and hardship to cleanse and purify us. It takes us back to the essentials of life. When everything is going well we tend to take home, job, spouse, children, health for granted. We take God for granted too.

When everything is going well we may feel we don’t need God so much. We may stop thanking him. Stop acknowledging that everything we have is God’s gift. We might get proud over our achievements or what we have accomplished. And then believe that they all happened because of our capabilities. We may succumb to the illusion of self-reliance that we no longer need God that much.

For some, death doesn’t bother knocking; it just barges in the door unexpected and unwelcome. For others, something like a cancer diagnosis can become like a knocking on the door. You get the warning, but the guest is still unwelcome. Death is the kind of guest that if you see it coming down the driveway, you lock the door and hide behind the curtains, hoping it will think you are not home. When the sound of the knock first came though, there were a few thoughts that came into my mind.

The knock made me more aware of others that had been in this same situation. Knowing that I was still at the beginning of another journey, I thought more of others who had dealt with what I had faced and how they appeared so composed and real in the light of dealing with issues that can seem quite surreal. I have to say, there is a difference between making a choice when you are healthy to when you make one after you are seriously ill.

My preparation for the inevitable does not mean I am opening the door and inviting death to come in and take a seat. I am hoping for a better life and I am looking forward to everything I was looking forward to before, only now it is with more intensity. When I hear the knocking again, I am not expecting to hide behind the curtains. But I can’t say that I won't be turning up the music either.

In the book of Revelation Jesus  says “I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” . Sometimes, His knocking is a light tapping in our spirit. But other times, when we are inattentive, He may use a pounding fist of adversity to turn our focus to Him.


  1. Wow, Dr. A, that's a deep reflection after your medical challenge. Sometimes I think of what would happen if I was to face death. I ask myself: 'If I was to die today, what would I need to accomplish to go peacefully?' This helps me to focus on what I need to work on to have a more harmonic relationship, to let go of baggages and to deepen into spirituality. Great post, and glad you are back to blogging. I need to do the same :-) Doris

  2. A very very reflecting and course correction post. All of us forget the fickleness of our life and hold on to silly things. Sometimes; I do end up going out my way and help/be available to people, Over apologize for no fault of mine..and so on just because I think who knows what might happen next. Though these things do get taken for granted.

    But yeah; its good to focus on whats important to you; how to bring peace within you and in turn to your surroundings. Glad to read your post after a long time

  3. A jolt, perhaps!
    But, Doc, what I feel after reading the post is that you may be a tad overboard with the inevitable that come about upon a mortal’s life. You may be worried as we all might, worry about death. Shouldn’t it be that if one lives life to the full, there is nothing (as you mentioned) for the Grim Reaper to hijack, to steal?
    Sure the medical incident jolted you, panicked you. However your reflections are a bunch of wise thoughts.

  4. Hi Anil
    That is the point I wanted to make. We talk about in general.But does not think, what if today? Honestly, I hadn't done that. In fact, I thought I would never get a heart problem because I had taken care.When I run the stairs to the clinic, patients waiting there would always say " Masha allah ". There are many who had asked me the secret of my energy ! And see what happened.
    I dont know about others. But I know about me that I had postponed many things in life. Yes, the sentence at the top should be at the end of the post. That is the lesson I have learned.

  5. Deeply, simply wise. And Appreciated. My own brush with death and hospitalization helped me to understand life as you describe it. Having read this, I am even more delighted to see you once more in the blog realm. All best wishes, Sir

    ALOHA from Honolulu
    =^..^= . <3 . >< } } (°>

  6. Acha, well written...beautiful transition through everything relevant in context of the incident. Don't worry, or prayers are with you always, so God will be kind and understanding, gracious with a LONG LONG life ahead!!!! Love you lots, God Bless!!!

  7. I am wondering how I missed this blog post. Then recalled that I may have missed adding you in feedly. Nice to read something from you though it is not a pleasant news. Nice to see you here.

    Loved your post. It is a reminder to everyone about appreciating things and ppl. I will keep ppl as top priority.Many relationships may not have got ruined if someone had stopped to think about the other person objectively, be it parents, siblings, spouses.


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