4 Minutes That Changed My Life Forever
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Money is a precious commodity; a commodity that I like, use, and know a lot about. As valuable as money is, it’s not the most precious commodity available to us. Many of us, myself included, spend countless hours writing and discussing money. Money has its place, but far more important, in my humble opinion, are time and the people I love. I learned just how precious time and loved ones are on November 10, 2008.
Just a Normal Day
My wife and I were enjoying the fruits of parenthood with our 15 month-old daughter. When we found out that we were pregnant again we were filled with joy; would she have a brother, or would I have two future weddings to put money aside for? We went in for our typical 20 week ultrasound on August 27th assuming everything would be normal.
We had decided to be surprised with our daughter, but wanted to find out the gender this time. About 20 minutes into the ultrasound the tech informed us that we would be having a boy! We were thrilled beyond belief, we were going to have one of each, how much more perfect does life get?
Well, the 20 minutes turned into 40 minutes and then into an hour. Remembering back to our daughter I knew that the ultrasound should only take about 30 minutes. After an hour or so the tech got up and announced that she had to “go get the doctor.” Ok, why do you have to do that? That wasn’t the case on the ultrasound with our daughter.
This is when our lives came to a screeching halt.
The doctor came in and informed us that there was something seriously wrong with our little one and he wanted to do an amniocentesis to confirm his thoughts. What we thought was going to be a normal day soon became one of the worst in my memory. Long story short, the procedure confirmed that our little one, had a genetic disorder known as Trisomy 18.
What makes fetuses with Trisomy 18 special is that they have a third copy of chromosome 18 as opposed to the normal two copies you and I have. This can cause a laundry list of problems for the baby and we were told that if my wife carried him to term there would be only a very, very small chance that he’d survive past a few months, if not weeks and would more than likely require specialized care. This news rocked our worlds, to put it lightly, and I wondered how all of this would change our lives.
The Loss of a Child
My wife carried Isaac for 11 more weeks and then the unimaginable happened. My wife woke me up early in the morning of November 10th to inform me that something was not right. Within minutes of her waking me up her water broke and things were moving FAST.
After a call to 911 we were on our way to the hospital. The timing was perfect in that as my wife was being rolled into our hospital room, Isaac was born. Most parents will tell you that the birth of a little one is a joyous event, and Isaac’s was, but there was also a fearful unknown in that we did not know what to expect.
The joy and fear soon turned into sadness. Isaac’s life spanned a total of 4 minutes. I remember every second of it and the day that ensued. The hospital was kind enough to allow us to spend the morning and afternoon with him and had a wonderful friend bring us our daughter and take some beautiful pictures.
I remember leaving the hospital that night. It was cold, dark and dreary, just as it was when we got there. Our hearts were heavy and we went home as a small family huddled together and loving each other through this storm. What became tangible to me that day was that time and those I love are the most important things to me on this earth. No matter how little or how much money we have, that pales in comparison to the short amount of time we have together.
We were soon having to deal with how we wanted to say goodbye to our precious Isaac and after some thought, it was obvious. We had decided to have his body cremated and then dealt with how to proceed with his ashes. Being as that my wife was born and raised in San Diego, there were many beautiful spots that are special to her.
The following Memorial Day we were able to go see her parents in San Diego and after much thought scattered Isaac’s ashes at sea at the Torrey Pines State Reserve. It was a perfect day and as we scattered his ashes we saw a huge school of dolphins jumping through the water. It is an image that I will take with me for the rest of my days.
You may be asking why I share this. (Thank you for sticking around, by the way, to read this 900+ word post.) I share it because we just celebrated Isaac’s fourth birthday on Saturday and he’s heavy on my heart. As I write this I have tears running down my face as the memories rush back. I also share it because what many of us fail to mention, myself included, is that time is limited.
We don’t know how much we have. We’re only guaranteed today, after that only God knows. We can almost always get money through a variety of ways when we need it, but we can’t get more time. This belief motivates me to appreciate each day for what it is and love those that mean the most to me. We can’t get today back. Once it’s done, it’s gone.
My challenge to you is to look at how you view time. How are you managing it? How are you using it to benefit those around you? If you knew today was your last, how would you spend it? Who would you spend it with?
If you have the time, please watch this video a dear friend of ours made to show at Isaac’s memorial service. We’re so thankful to have things like this to help us remember him.
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.