I lay awake some nights, staring at the corked grid ceiling. My body heaves with deep, wrenching coughs… the kind that hurt the back of your throat and make your breath stale. I feel as if my body is trying to throw up my organs. I lay awake, unquiet and uncomfortable. It feels as if a mucus-slick hand grasps my lethargic heart. I know not how long this sickness on top of sickness has plagued my spirits, it seems as if every day has been marred by a cold. I thrash and growl a cry of rage. “I’m done,” I snarl to myself.
I think one of my worst fears is growing old, and not for the reason most people think. I think people focus too much on youth and beauty… it’s sad really. No, I’m afraid that before I know it, my years will have left me behind at the gate and one day I’ll open my eyes and I’ll be in a hospital bed awaiting my death. I’m afraid I’ll forget to do all the things I want to do with my life, that I’ll never get to explore the world. I’m afraid of the day I can’t swing my leg over the back of a horse; I think that will be a death in itself. I fear my own body; it is a cage. I fear its decay while I’m stuck on the inside, that I’ll keep my mind but lose all function… that I might lose my ability to communicate. I fear ungrateful children that begrudgingly visit my hospital bed, secretly feeling I am a burden, thoughts avoiding words and manifesting in actions. I fear the inevitable. Will it hurt? Will I be scared in the moment? Will I be ready? What happens after death? Will I see “the white light” that everyone talks about, or is that just a cliche? Will it be a void? Will I meet God? Where will my friends be? My pets? Will I be happy without them? Will I be able to watch over the loved ones I have left behind? I am terrified of it all. I try to remind myself to be present to the world around me and to embrace each moment. Life is precious and fleeting.