Here is a New Year's resolution of the highest importance.
It is possible to prepare for the worst eventuality imaginable: the sudden death of someone close to you. Learn first aid techniques for emergency care before the unforeseen is seen.
Take a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course. With a little bit of luck, you will have wasted your time and energy and will never have to use your knowledge. There are more and more cardiac defibrillators in public places (in the first world, that is) and more people with implanted machines; but the victim whose heart has stopped has a few short minutes to receive assistance before there is brain damage, and a few more before death.
It isn't just the elderly or just heart attacks. Shock after accidents, heatstroke and other emergencies and maladies can cause the heart to stop. Childhood injuries can quickly escalate to crises.
I was reminded of this because twenty-five years ago, I was trained in first aid and CPR when I worked in a psychiatric hospital. Like the Red Cross swimming classes that trained so many of us, there are equivalently useful courses in emergency care. The Red Cross seems to have developed courses that get lodged in your memory until they are needed.
This week my wife, who was seriously injured in an anti-American attack earlier this year and is presently "under the weather" from some virus, was sitting with me and our bodyguard talking on the terrace. She suddenly had a seizure, vomited and lost consciousness. I was luckily sitting next to her and there in a second, the guard helping to keep her from falling and trying to help me keep her safe, her airway clear.
Amazingly my training was still sitting hidden all these years and, without thinking about it, when she stopped breathing, I gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and began CPR. She came back quickly after scaring us deeply. My guard, whose Spanish is far better than mine (he is Mexican after all), called 066 (the emergency number) for an ambulance, and I called a local doctor who is close, clean and gentle. The doctor came right over. The ambulance (it is Mexico) never came at all.