“When I was 19 or 20, a wonderful thing happened to me—terrifying but wonderful. When I was younger, I thought my grandmother was probably God and she just wouldn’t tell anybody! She was so strong and kind. And when my grandmother died, I realized that even if I had millions of dollars, I couldn’t find her anywhere on earth. And my next thought was that I would die. Oprah, I used to go into my house, see that my son was asleep, and after turning all the locks on the door, I would put a chair under the doorknob. I didn’t realize that I was trying to keep death out. Then I began having trouble breathing. I didn’t have asthma, but my breathing was labored. Finally, I had to come to grips with what was the matter with me. I looked at my life and thought, ‘I’m afraid to die.’ And I concluded that whether I was afraid or not, I would die. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to you about this.
It was one of the most important crossroads in my life, because once I realized that no matter what, I would do this thing, the next step was to think, ‘If I am going to do the most difficult and frightening thing—dying—is it possible that I could do some difficult and maybe seemingly impossible things that are good?'”
– Maya Angelou