Don’t Let the Sun Go Down

A principle to live by

By Michelle Koh

Growing up, my family would often enjoy going on holidays together.  Some of my fondest memories I have are from our getaway adventures.  Back then, experiencing new things as a family was a common occurence. As I reflect now, my sense of adventure was probably formed from my early childhood days.  

So, during my year 10 school holidays, we went away as usual.  

“Can you PLEASE drive more carefully?”  my mum asked. 

To which my dad defensively replied, “There’s NOTHING wrong with my driving”. 

A tense exchange of words followed, of which I can’t clearly remember… or perhaps chose not to remember.   Trying to be the peacemaker, I invented a silly verbal game to play with my younger brother Jonathan in the back seats to distract ourselves from the escalating tension that was occuring between our parents.  We had been driving for a few hours to the annual flower festival in a country town in Queensland called Toowoomba as my mum really loved flowers.  

Thankfully, we arrived at the festival shortly after and all seemed to be momentarily forgotten as we walked through various gardens, captivated by the beauty of those flowers.  

On the car trip back home, the worst possible situation occurred – one my mum had feared earlier that morning.  

“SSCCCCCCrrrreeeeeaccchhhh, BANG”.  

My father had failed to stop at the stop sign.  He swerved immediately to avoid the oncoming truck, but it was too late.   The car crashed into a huge telegraph pole, exactly on the front passenger side where mum was.  Yes, was.  Mum died on the scene due to the impact.  

Those two seconds changed my life forever in so many ways.   Even decades later, I still find myself discovering new things about how I was impacted by that moment in time.  

As a family, we don’t talk about my mum’s death.  On the one hand, it seemed like my father had moved on, having remarried a few years later.  

The fact is, you can never be sure when the last time you see someone. 

No one knows when their last breath will be.  And whilst there’s many things I’ve learnt from those two seconds, one principle I live by is to “never let the sun go down when you’re angry”.  

I have experienced and realised the fragility of life, probably at a much younger age than many. I do feel fortunate to have grasped this concept early on in life.  So now, when I do have a heated discussion with my friends, I try as much as humanly possible to make sure we resolve things before we leave. 

It might not always be possible, but I do want to walk away knowing full well I’ve tried the best from my end.

Michelle is an electrical engineer who used to work in CISCO and Macquarie Bank.  She owns a photography business and also teaches in bible college in NSW Australia where she lives.  She is currently head of staff and global marketing director for the Christian RICE Movement which reaches out to young people

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