Culture

Reflections on sudden deaths and unexpected tragedy: Our time will come

by Fiona Teh // September 27, 2017, 5:46 pm

AFC

I knew Steven Lim, but I hadn’t heard of Pradip Subramanian. Not until the news started to pour in.

Subramanian, the president of the World Bodybuilding & Physique Sports Federation (WBPF) Singapore wing, had died an hour after a celebrity Muay Thai match at the Asia Fighting Championship (AFC) on September 23, 2017.

He wasn’t even supposed to be in the ring – he was a last-minute stand-in for Sylvester Sim, who pulled out citing insurance concerns.

With all the fake news around today, I wish this had been fake news.

Death is all over the headlines. In the last few weeks, we’ve tuned in to news about multiple Category 5 hurricanes devastating North and Central America, and earthquakes in Central and South-west Mexico.

But those are in countries halfway around the world, and the news is reduced to mere numbers – death tolls. 

Sometimes it’s hard, from this distance, to really grasp the tragedy unfolding. Which is why, sometimes, the news of an unexpected and sudden death closer to home hits us harder.

Pradip’s death hits harder because he’s one of us. He’s a young Singaporean son, just 32 years old. Earlier this month, we lost another – an even younger soldier – in an army training exercise mishap.

This life matters only because of what follows it. How are we living our lives?

Death is no respecter of persons, and it could be any one of us next.

A traffic accident, sudden heart failure, or cancer – life can come to a sudden halt at any time. Death, especially the passing of a loved one, brings us to the solemn realisation that life really is short.

Memento mori. Death is a certainty, a prognosis we cannot run from. The day to say goodbye to our loved ones will come, or maybe it will be them bidding us farewell.

It may come sooner than expected, or in ways we never thought would befall us.

Time runs out for everyone. And only a few things will hold up when that day comes:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)

You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14)

What is your life? What is worth living for? What is worth dying for? What are we fighting for?

Many people say it’s about the legacy they leave behind. But the Bible teaches me that, someday, that too shall pass.

See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17)

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17)

Nothing of this earth, in this life, will stand the test of time.

Not the heavens and earth as they now stand. Not the world and its desires. Not our monuments, accolades, wealth, plaudits, dreams, ambitions.

This life matters only because of what follows it.

In the light of eternity, how are we living our lives?

About the author

Fiona Teh

Fiona is low-key hilarious, a dog person, and she loves a good chat with strangers – particularly at Yakun. She also believes that everyone should know that they are absolutely worthy of love.