Two centimeters

Everything can change in the blink of an eye

I kneeled beside my little brother, holding his bloody hand and watching as the white towel pressed against his head quickly turned crimson.

“Please don’t take him, please don’t take him,” I repeated over and over in my head.

Moments before, my brother Andrew had been struck in the head at close range by a metal discus weighing almost four pounds. He was hit, staggered backward, and then collapsed to the ground.

Blood was literally flowing from a four inch long gap on his forehead; luckily, my brother remained conscious.

An ambulance arrived and took Andrew to the hospital. I sat crying in the waiting room while a doctor bandaged his head. I went in and stood next to my dad at my brother’s bedside. I couldn’t stop crying, even when the brain surgeon entered the room to explain what was going to happen.

Small pieces of Andrew’s skull were lodged in his brain. The surgeon made two incisions to remove the shards and insert a titanium mesh plate. After that, a pediatric plastic surgeon worked on the surgical site to decrease the prominence of the scars.

The operation went smoothly. I sat next to Andrew’s bed as he lay sleeping with 42 new stitches in his head.

What the surgeon told us after the operation, about where on the head my brother was hit, shook me to my core: “Two centimeters lower and he would have been dead. Two centimeters to the right and he would have been dead.”

This made me really think about life. It’s strange to think in terms of its fragility. We’re all two centimeters from death; we are close to death every moment we’re breathing.

We, as college students, are at a point in our lives when our brains tell us we are invincible, so that’s exactly the way we live our lives. We drink too excessively, drive too fast, smoke too much, neglect our bodies’ needs too often and expect no consequences.

With an unknown amount of time left on earth, why not take advantage of the moments we still do have? It’s important to live life to the fullest, but also to understand boundaries and that you could lose everything in the blink of an eye. This sounds so cliché, but it’s true. Yet living life to the fullest doesn’t involve just being happy all the time and taking adventures; it also involves being contemplative and reflective of your life.

Every time I see the scar across Andrew’s forehead, I am reminded that life is a precious gift that is all too often taken for granted.


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