Posted on March 20, 2012


“I am dying”. It is the thought that awakens me in the middle of the night. I roll over to see that the clock shows 1:17 AM. “Will it be today? Next week? Next year?” I roll back over and pull the sheets and blanket tight. Sleep is elusive even though I squeeze my eyes tight. I try to think of nothing, of the void. But that only brings back death. “Will I dream? Or will it be the elusive nothingness I seek now?”

The sheets are making my neck itch. I thought my eyes were closed but I still see the alarm clock. It’s 1:52 AM. Only 35 minutes? It felt like a day. Dawn will come too soon. Or will it? Will I face the day or still be lost in a fight between slumber, death and nothingness.

“I am dying”. It’s the thought that keeps bringing back from the threshold of sleep. It’s 2:21 AM. Less than 4 hours until the alarm will summon me to face the day. I feel it in my heart; I feel it, know it in my head. “I am going to die”. It’s not the realization that I’m human; that I am aging and will perish some day. This is an imminent feeling. It’s a cancer, malignant, slowly growing inside me. Death is waiting for me. This is a cancer of my soul, my self-being, of my intellect. I can feel it gnawing me from the inside out. Eroding me, digesting and dissolving me. “Why won’t you let me be in peace tonight?”
The sheets and comforter are twisted around me in knots at 3:06 AM. I shuck them away; feel the coldness of the night air on my skin. But I’m not cold. Neither am I warm. Is this death already? Is it just emptiness and cold? But no, I must be alive, else how could I think these things. Or is this death? Not asleep and yet not awake, the limbo between midnight and dawn?

“I am dying”. “Please, let me sleep, let me rest!” This time I grab my cell phone and wake it up so it can show me that it’s 3:58 AM. If I can’t sleep, why should the phone sleep? I stare at the ceiling for a few minutes, seeing the soft glow of the moon through the window shades on it. Not bright enough to see by, but just bright enough to make me aware. Like my cancer. I know it’s there. It’s sending tendrils of itself through my body. My cells and my blood and my nerves send messages to my brain and my heart “something is growing inside you”. “It is killing you”. But I am already dead. I am a ghost in this house now. I pass through the halls and I go unnoticed. I am unseen. I am not even a shadow.

“I’m dying”. Is that my emptiness? Where did that come from? It wasn’t there yesterday. Has my cancer created a hole inside me now? Why does there feel like a void inside me? Why does the alarm clock say 5:12? I feel like I actually slept for a bit. But then the emptiness and realization return. I get out of bed; slip my fingers in the blinds a peer out the window. Everything is dark around me. Not even my breath makes a fog on the window. I must be dead now. I don’t remember anything else; just the darkness, no lights. There is nothingness.

I am still in the void: no memories, no feelings, no sensation and no emotion. There is a suffuse light around me though; and music. As I’m reborn from death, my world becomes more focused. I hear words in the music now “…Mr. Jimmy; a man, who he looked pretty ill”. The subtle light is the sunrise peeking through the blinds. It’s 6:00 AM. It’s time to get up, and start the process of dying again all over.

How long have I been dead?

Was I dead or dreaming? Then I feel the cancer inside me grow and I know now that it was not a dream.

I’m sitting in the breakfast nook, eating cold milk and Raisin Bran. I feel hollow. But inside, I’m raw with emotion. No, not emotion: emotions; all of them. They are extremely intense as well. They feel like they’ve eaten up every fiber of my being and they are clawing at the inside of my skin, trying to break free. How can I be dying and be feeling all of this?
Here comes remorse. It starts deep and visceral. It boils and bubbles to the surface. I weep for what I’ve lost. I weep for what I’ve missed. I weep for each of my mistakes.

I’m still reeling from my mistakes when happiness erupts violently through the cancerous cauldron. And I weep for the sunlight on the maple leaf. I weep for the coolness of the milk on my tongue. I weep for my children and the joy they’ve brought.
Then just as quickly, fear and anxiety rise. They grab my happiness and suck it back down into my malignancy. “You’re dying” they tell me. “It’s too late to be happy or remorseful”.

My head reels. I’m spinning round and round. My hand falls and the spoon clatters against the table, milk, bran flakes and raisins create a Rorschach image of disgust and contempt. My breakfast is mocking me.
There are hundreds of shards of glass and slivers when the bowl, milk and cereal sail through the breakfast nook bay window.
The fear is taking hold now. “I am dying”. When? Why? How? The feeling is so imminent and so immediate. “I will be in extreme pain. I will suffer horribly. I will be a shadow of my former self and no one will recognize me”.
Now contempt rushes up through the depths, exploding to the surface like a geyser, flooding and filling me with its disease. It mocks me too. “We’re going to crush you. You will be defeated and you will beg for an end”.
This is like leprosy. Only this is raw and enervating. With leprosy, I wouldn’t know that I hit the edge of the coffee table with my shin. I wouldn’t feel the pain, or the bruise. I wouldn’t S see or feel the gangrene set in. This cancer is gangrenous too, but I feel every emotional bruise and scar, every ache and wound. And I’m rotting away from the inside.

I’m in a daze. I don’t even realize I’ve showered, gotten in the car and driven to work. I feel like I’m in a waking dream. Or is I a nightmare? Is it really last night and I’m still asleep?

The day is more dreamlike than my dream. Someone said I punched Kenny in the face. I don’t remember even seeing him, much less punching him. Someone else said I overturned the vending machine and gave out free Twinkies.
Someone said I kissed Kate in the break room; full, on the lips, passionately and with lots of tongue.
Someone said “You’re fired!”

Somehow I’m home again. The pale, evening sun seeps through the windows and makes an attempt to warm me. But it’s cold, weak and without warmth. And there’s a draft in the breakfast nook as wind pours in through the jagged fragments and splinters of the window. “How’d that get broken?”

But I don’t feel the cold. I sit on the couch. I can’t bring myself to turn on the lights or the television. I sit alone in the darkness.

Suddenly I’m reminded I’m alive again as the emotion return. This time it’s an overwhelming sensation of fear. My first thought is that “I’m fired? What will I do now?” But then the realization of death returns and work becomes moot. The fear of death overrides all else.

My mind is playing tricks with me. It’s telling me how painful it will be. How long I will suffer. Both are beyond what I can imagine. It’s so intense I want to throw up. But there is nothing in my stomach. How long has it been since I’ve eaten? I can’t recall. All I feel are the spasms as I wretch and dry heave on the couch. The bitter taste of acid and bile flood my mouth.
Then ,the tears being again; uncontrollably. At first a soft, gentle sobbing. For what, a life misspent? For existence, and what’s left? Then, the sobbing turns to weeping; tears streaming down my face. I curl up with my pity and sorrow on the couch, in the darkness with my bitterness still in my mouth.

And then a sleep to end all sleeps.