I recently presented the Jenny Bucknell award for community first responders. Jenny Bucknell was my housemate in medical school and she tragically died 3 weeks before her finals of an undiagnosed heart condition, Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.
I remember Jenny, as most people do, as a very good rower and a very outgoing, strong character who would have achieved whatever she wanted. I fondly remember fighting for space as I tried to fix my bike in the dining room while she wanted to dry her rowing kit. I often still think of the great New Year’s Eve party, with the house full of friends just months before her death.
The shock was incredible and I still do not fully know how to explain how I feel about it. Her death was so far away from what I expected and so far away from my mental model of how the world should work that it simply did not sink in for a very long time. I still do not know how to fully process it. The shocking lack of her “tomorrow” makes me re-evaluate my “today”. It gave me a stark reminder that nothing is guaranteed and that every moment is precious and that waiting for tomorrow to make me fulfilled and happy is a recipe for disappointment. We should not live every day as if we will die tomorrow, that would be entirely impractical as you would never achieve anything long term. However we should appreciate today and the world around us. We should be mindful and appreciative and remember that our life and time is precious.