From mikecap@bigwpi.WPI.EDU Fri Sep 22 03:41:47 EDT 1995
Article: 1066 of wpi.students.vox
I’m afraid of dying now.
I don’t think I was ever really afraid of my mortality before. It was an accepted thing, something that was not a part of my life, something that was just an abstract concept. Something not real.
It’s real for me now. Being in a head-on with an 18 wheeler does that to you.
I’ve been a hair’s breadth away from death a lot of times in my life – one time I was alone at home, eating some breakfast in the usual way, and I choked hard on some food. My air passage was totally blocked, such that all I could produce was a very faint wheezing; I couldn’t take in any air at all, and the effect was very frightening. I started to panic a little, realizing that dialing the phone wouldn’t help because I couldn’t really have talked to 911 (I was just a kid then, maybe 9 or 10, I didn’t really know about tracing phone calls or what not, and I wasn’t exactly in a clear state of mind at the time).
I figured I would just be dead and blue by the time they got to me anyhow. I floundered around a bit, trying desperately to figure some way out of the predicament, when it suddenly dawned on me. “Heimlich,” I thought. But there wasn’t anyone around to perform it on me… I then remembered that you could practice the Heimlich on yourself by leaning over a chair and pushing your stomach in that way. I gave it a shot, hard, and lucky me – the food popped out.
That wasn’t the only near miss I had. There was the time I nearly drowned in my pool, the time I was almost hit by a car while crossing the street in Canada, the time 90 West St. caught fire… and these are just the ones I was aware of. How many times was my life in jeopardy that I didn’t realize? How many times did the plane almost crash? How many times did the car narrowly swerve to avoid us?
The funny thing though is that I never really thought about these events before. Even experiencing the choking thing firsthand was only enough to scare me for a little while (and I was just a kid, too, so maybe that might have something to do with it). But my first car accident (hopefully my last) was scary enough to throw my head out of whack for a bit. I get flashbacks of the accident occasionally, and sometimes I get these really intense foreboding feelings, as if I have very little time left in my life, and that it’s all going to be ending soon. I’m sure these responses are “natural” and all that, but I’d really like to know when I’m going to stop getting them on such a regular basis. I understand that being trapped in a smoking heap of twisted Honda can do this to a person, so it’s not as if I don’t know what the cause of my mania is.
It might also have something to do with the fact that I’m getting a hold of my life, of my life – the one I’m going to live, the one that I’m finally coming into of my own accord. It could also be that I’ve found someone very special to share myself with, someone I can say that I love very much, with all my heart and all my being.
I have something worth losing now, I guess. I have a life that I’m very happy with, and I don’t want to give it up – not now, and not ever, really. Death is going to take all these things that I’ve worked towards away from me, and it can do it anytime it wants, it can crush the fragile breath right out of my body, and it can do it in an instant.
I don’t buy that “death as part of the cycle of life” crap. Fuck that shit. I don’t feel like going anywhere in particular, especially if I’m going to lose everything I have now. I don’t care if they have to stick tubes in every part of my body to keep me going – as long as my brain’s still there, I’m still there, and I want to keep living as long as I possibly can.
I could say that there was an upside to all this; that I now appreciate all the finer moments of life, that I’m stopping to smell the flowers, pausing to enjoy myself, etc. But things couldn’t be more different – I’m more frantic than I’ve ever been. I’m more desperate to accomplish something with my life. I’m loving harder than I probably should be, perhaps even destructively so.
All because of that 69-year-old motherfucker truck driver from Pennsylvania. I swear that if I ever have any control over the nation’s highways, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop interstate truck distribution. That bastard robbed me of my ignorance of death, and I can’t say that I like that one bit.
Not one fucking bit.