“You aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy.”

True wealth is far more than money.

What does wealth mean to you? What do you have that makes your life rich?

The thing is, we are rich in ways we are often blind to — often until it is too late to have those riches back.

I was reminded of this while on duty not too long ago. We responded to a young lady having difficulty breathing, and while that is a common dispatch, I did not anticipate what I’d find. This woman had advanced cerebral palsy. She could not walk. She could not even get out of bed. Her family needed to use a Hoyer lift just to move her. She was only a few years younger than me.

I remember entering that cluttered, poorly ventilated apartment, heavy with the smell of cat urine, and seeing that this was her life, day after day. The only time she ever got outside was to go to the hospital.

A few months later, I met a gentleman having a STEMI (a serious heart attack), but before that, in a matter of months, he had lost his sister and his son. When I had to break the news to him that he was most likely having a heart attack, he started crying. And even though we got him to the PCI center within an hour of the onset of his symptoms, and watched the interventionist put stents in his coronary arteries, I could not help but think of the heartbreak he had suffered, and how life had thrown this curve ball at him too.

And most recently, we were called for a gentleman who had not been heard from in three days. We found him in his apartment, dead on the floor, beyond any help we could possibly give. His time had run out.

To think I take for granted my ability to walk, breath normally, and live an independent life. To think I take for granted the family and friends I have around me. To think I squander time on frivolous things. Yet that is what most people do. We bemoan what we do not have and do not appreciate what we do have. We want to be rich, and ignore the riches we already possess.

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