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



One Comment

  1. It struck me at that instant; the lightness I felt reading what you wrote turned to horrors at the moment of tragedy. I am so sorry Michelle. I had an article published in Christianity Malaysia (attached) which I would like to share. It was an account about a tragedy in my own life many years ago.
    Stewart Chew website

    What good is it for man to gain the whole world and yet lose or yet forfeit his very self? – LUKE 9:25

    Edward Vernon Rickenbacker was an American fighter ace in World War I and Medal of Honor recipient. Gauging from the countless air fights that Vernon Rickenbacker had experienced, one can assume quite correctly that he won some of them easily and some of them through a great deal of danger to his own safety. I would assume again that during those near-miss air fights that could have easily gone the other way, he would have woken up to a lot of thinking about the value of life that only God could have given him. Every time he lands his plane safely from high up in the sky after he had downed an enemy, he would have knelt and kissed the ground and thank God who had preserved him (again)! Nothing else matters to him – neither his material possessions nor even his group of supportive and loving pilot friends who were waiting to greet him. He is alive and what else is more important than that? The great dangers of his experiences prompted him to write the following quotation:-
    “Let the moment come when nothing is left but life, and you will find that you do not hesitate over the fate of material possessions”.
    Do we ever get tired of all our worldly things? Do we ever lose interest in what we have worked for all our lives? The answers to these pertinent questions are – it depends. It depends on whether one believes in an ever-loving God and accepts the salvation of His only son. When he does, he discovers that all earthly wealth is for the here and now but it is having a relationship with an eternal loving God that is truly what gives us joy in our lives! When we do not restrict our visions only to as far as the earthly horizon, but way beyond to an eternal heaven, then worldly things become secondary in our lives and they do not affect the things that we do when we serve a faithful God.

    To prove that this is true, we just have to ask the people whose professions involve their contact with people who are near death – like ambulance officers, nurses and doctors. They all give similar accounts of the mental attitudes of these people who have not got long to live. They will all agree that the people they cared for do not give two hoots about what they possess or what food they will be eating or what nice clothes they are wearing! They have come to this stage to realise that having life is the most important thing so they yearn to get better and to live a little longer. To illustrate this point, let me recall a true story with fictitious names. Tony has been by his wife’s bedside for two days without as much as a bite to eat. Angela had been terminally ill with stomach cancer and her condition had worsened so that the nurses had brought her to the intensive care unit. Tony had lovingly and carefully held her slender hand, as she lay motionless in her bed. He had to get very close to her whenever she spoke to be able to hear what she said. She had been repeatedly asking him, in almost a whisper, about their two children living in Singapore. “They are on the plane and they will be here soon, darling,” Tony said to comfort Angela.

    Tony was talking to her of the many nice things Angela was fond of, and of the delicious meals she loves and that he was going to cook them for her when she comes home. Tony also spoke about that great holiday he had planned for her to Singapore to visit her folks. There was also the new company car that he had just taken possession that was parked in view of her window. He was a little disappointed with her lack of enthusiasm when she did not as much as flicker an eye in response to the seemingly exciting things he had planned for her. He could not understand her lack of interest in these exciting things that was so important to her before. All that came from his dying wife was a soft but anguished voice asking again and again why their children were taking such a long time to come. Whilst waiting with her, he must have fallen asleep but not for long because he was abruptly woken up by familiar voices outside their door. The troubled voices then quickly stopped as the daughters recognized their father sitting by their mother’s bedside. They came in and hugged their father. They were restraining their sobs when they saw the pale and slight body of mother and their father quickly responded by taking the box of Kleenex to them. The younger of the two moved close to her mother and held her hand in her palms and continued crying. The elder daughter stopped and stood a little distance away from the bed. The strange sight of her emancipated mother with a tube in her nose, and drips on her arms was perhaps too much for her to accept. Somehow in the stillness of a final family reunion, the mother seem to sense the presence of her daughters and she moved her hands ever so slightly and slowly turned her head and opened her eyes! To the great delight and surprise of her family around her, they all came in near to the bed together and hugged her and embraced one another. There was a moment of peace and joy in Angela’s eyes as she finally saw her daughters. She lovingly looked at one daughter and then onto the next. She attempted to say something but nothing came out from her lips. And then, ever so slowly, she closed her eyes for the last time. It was as if she had deliberately hung on to her life just that little bit longer for this very special moment to say her final goodbye to her family.

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