It’s like i’m permanently 14 years old and that is both good and very bad.
Sometime when I lay in bed at night, I think about what it’ll be like when I die. Not in a sad or depressed way, just in a this-is-fact-of-life way. I’m laying in bed thinking about it, picturing my future self mere breaths away from expiration, and I’m telling my current/future self to be strong, be strong, you can’t fight it, it has to happen, so be strong.
And I am suddenly overwhelmed by this memory of me in high school. I’m at the doctor’s office – one of those convenient care type of places – and I’m about to have an IV stuck in my arm for the first time ever. And I’m kind of scared shitless.
Now usually when I recall this memory, I always tell the first part. And that’s about how I got super sick and my dad took me to see the doctor, and just as I’m telling the nurse how I felt sick so I drank some grape juice, which is apparently terrible for an upset stomach, I asked for a garbage can. When the nurse refused to provide one, I stood up to go to the bathroom. I didn’t make it. I threw up in the hallway, and again on the bathroom floor, before making it to the pot.
The story doesn’t end there either. After I finished, I went to wash my hands like a good person (I was going to say good girl, but really, we should all be washing our hands.) When I stood up, the blood rushed out of my head and I fainted. I fell forward and smashed my forehead on the wall before sliding down to the floor. Luckily my dad heard me drop, so he busted into the room, real heroic-like.
That’s usually how I tell that story, but laying in bed last night, it wasn’t the vomit, it was the IV, keeping me awake. To replenish my fluids after I vomited the nurse wanted to give me some IVs. My dad agreed. I was weak, fatigued and naturally scared, but there was nothing I could do about it.
I remember laying on the crinkly sanitation paper. My arm was bare. The inside of my elbow sanitized. I saw the needle. That was the last time I ever opted to look at a needle about to go in me. And I turned my face away and just whispered da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da non-stop until was over. I braced myself as it happened–the needle in me, the nurse fiddling with the IV bags, tape tight across my skin–but I didn’t stop da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da until it was over.
I refocused my eyes, which hadn’t been shut just rolled out not looking at anything in particular, and brought myself back. I was fine, the IV was in and it was just a matter of waiting now. My dad asked me what I was saying, I think he thought I was saying dad, which I feel bad about since he was surely feeling my pain anyway. I told him nothing, which probably only confirmed it. But maybe in some sort of subconscious, vulnerable-child way I was, who knows.
Laying in bed–in the present–I imagine my dying self looking away going da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, bracing myself for death. When my eyes–my soul, some part of me maybe–refocus, what will it see? Or will saying da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da be the last thing I ever do?
Be strong when you die.