"There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state to another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life."–Alexandre Dumas.

'Sir?' the waitress reluctantly inquires whilst ravenously chewing on a piece of pink chewing gum. 'Sir, we don't need you to keep our seats warm, and I don't know how things work wherever you're from, but here in Cali no order is equivalent to no seat. So if you're not gonna order, I suggest–'

'I'll have a cup of coffee, black, with plenty of sugar – Please.' I abruptly answer with a humble smirk whilst cutting the waitress off in the middle of her sentence. She nods lightly and scribbles some words on a piece of yellow paper. Yet, she does not seem bothered. She seems quite satisfied – now that she does not have to tend to me anymore. Whilst the waitress walks away to place my order I allow myself to succumb once again in profound contemplation of that day four years ago. The day that inevitably came to define the essence of who I am, and also became the inexhaustible inspiration for my career as a successful published author.

The fish Fugu now carries a new significance to me. It is, alike a scar, a constant reminder of that I survived. Even though my father did not, nor did my mother or my sister. Moreover, I was lost – thinking that my life lacked significance and purpose – until that day, and I was in for a rude awakening. Since, – at the risk of sounding trite by using a hackneyed platitude – sometimes one does not fully comprehend nor recognize what one has until it is all taken away from one, and it was all taken away from me. For, my father tried to deprive me of my greatest gift. Something given to all, yet appreciated by few: the gift of life.

Furthermore, whenever I hear the word 'Fugu' it reminds me of the essence of who I am: a survivor. And therefore, if anyone ever asks me: 'What dying feels like?' I will stare him steadily in his eyes and say that: 'It feels like surviving'.