It is difficult to put into words your feelings when you’re sitting in the hospital where you were born and the doctor tells you that you’re about to die. I’ve always been practical about death, or so I believed, but this news put me on pause. It seemed like my entire body froze: limbs, eyelids, lungs. Everything. The doctor spoke some more in detail about my prognosis, but it took a full two minutes for me to snap back into the conversation.
I knew I’d die at some point (like we all know it) and I lived like someone who was grateful to be alive-at least that’s what I’d told myself for years now. I think in some utterly misguided way I felt like I was fully prepared for my actual death. I knew from this moment that I was not ready. It’s one thing to buy your burial plot and have a living will and have all of the practical stuff taken care of, it is something totally different to realize you’ll die with all the regrets you’d hoped would be resolved still hanging precariously over your head. And that all of your misdeeds and truly awful transgressions really can’t be rectified no matter how bad you feel.
And I was going to feel very bad as the disease progressed. Dr. Wilf made a point of that. Pain meds galore for me. So many that my ultimate demise would come tiptoeing up to me unnoticed. “Slip away” was the euphemism he used. I already felt like I’d fallen, so I suppose slipping away was an improvement.
He handed me a packet. “A guide for my journey back to the dust,” I said. He scowled in disapproval at my crack, but shouldn’t I get to react however I want? I was the one with three to six months to live. Live, albeit in escalating levels of pain and confusion brought on by a rare genetic condition that some fuck in my family tree had and got passed on to me in the tangled code science had barely begun to understand. Breathe, and then not breathe. A lot to absorb in the elevator ride down to the garage. At least I had my packet to prepare me.
© 2022 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.
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