Monday, July 30, 2012

Eternal Oblivion

It might be my rabbit that is subconsciously fueling all this mess.  He died.  I fed him.  Sometimes.  I paid attention to him.  Once in a while.  And one day, he died.  Dead, dead, dead.  My reaction was far out of proportion to the situation.  The situation was a 9-year-old child with a dead rabbit she rarely paid attention to.  My reaction was that of a 9-year-old child whose mother just died.   Interestingly, as an adult, I've mostly forgotten all about it. 

Until my mom mentioned it to me the other day.  She and I were talking on the phone.  I actually told her about my …. well …. I’m not even sure what to call it.  Ruminations of death?  Death panic?  Death anxiety?  Paralyzing, incapacitating fear of death?  I don’t know.   But I told her about it.  I am not sure why.

I explained it as best I could before my nerve ran out.  When she asked how long it had been going on.  I told her 7 or 8 months.  She was shocked.  I didn’t understand why at first.  But, apparently, 7 or 8 months is a long time to keep silent about things that are rapidly chipping away at your sanity.   But she kept talking.  So I asked her to stop. 

“So, when does it happen?”

“Okay mom.  You need to stop now.”

“But, what exactly bothers you about it?”

“Mom.  Please.  I can’t talk about this anymore.”

“Yeah, but is it the actual act of dying or is it---“

“MOM! Please STOP!”

Somewhere in there, she mentioned my rabbit.  And then I remembered.  It was the rabbit.  The first thought I had when I saw the little pink plus sign on my pee stick.  “How the hell am I going to keep a child alive if I couldn’t even keep a rabbit alive?!”

Momma says she fed it.  That it was not my fault that it died.  She fed it when I did not.  She held it when I didn’t.  I did not starve or ignore my rabbit to death.   Didn’t matter.  Doesn’t matter.  Not really.  The rabbit died.  It made a permanent dent in my gut.  Yet, I’d moved it out of my consciousness. 

And then I remembered another something.  Fairly strange.  I won’t say it was a “near-death experience.”  There was no spiritual or existential moment.  No light.  No voices.  No god or angels or a feeling of peace….. or any feelings at all.  It is just an event that almost resulted in my death.  I was not conscious, and so I felt no pain or fear.  There was no dream state.  No thought or feeling.  No nothing.  I simply became conscious again 3 days later.  I knew nothing except what I have been told.  I have no memories from the moment I became unconscious to the moment I woke.   

That was 17 years ago.  I just realized the other day that in 17 years, I have never known or asked for the whole story.  Nope.  Not once.  Both my mother and my husband were there.  My husband saved my life, as a matter of fact.  My life and that of the son who was in my belly at the time.  I’ve heard the few little anecdotes he and my mom have told over the years.  But that’s really it.  I’ve never asked the whole story, top to bottom, details, narration, etc.  I’ve never asked…. And it never even crossed my mind to ask.  Who does that?! 

We were all together for lunch over the weekend when they started talking about it, my mom and my husband.  And suddenly, they were adding details I’d never heard before.  They talked about how violent it was.  How physical.  And frightening.  There was blood and vomit and foaming at the mouth, screaming and grunting and biting my tongue.  A doctor almost got punched in the face.  I was apparently about 10 seconds from falling off of a hospital bed and onto the floor, pregnant belly side down. 

I have never heard these things.  And I have never asked.  In 17 years.  Never asked.  Never felt the need to know.  But it shocked me.  A lot.  To hear them talking.  

And I thought to myself, I could have died that day.  Easily.  I was minutes away.  But, away from what?  Exactly?  I felt nothing.  I knew nothing.  I had no pain.  No fear.  No regrets.  No thoughts at all.  There was no time to say goodbye to anyone, to tell anyone how much I loved them, to say all the things I wanted to say and do all the things I wanted to do- No time for that. 

But if I had died that day.  At that moment.  Well.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but....

So what?

So what.

I find peace in that.  


  1. This reminded me of my philosophy class in high school and Epicurus' doing away with the human fear of death. I just found a cheaters' version here: (sorry, dunno how to post links in comments :P).

    "When we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not."

    Sounds pretty cool. Hopefully one day I might make myself believe it.

    1. Oh, THANK YOU. For the link. I read the whole thing. Love it. LOVE IT. I don't know why it made such an impression. But his idea of death being a non-issue is brilliant. I think that is exactly what I needed to hear. It's right along the lines with my "so what" revelation, but takes it a bit farther, I think. It's been simmering around my brain since yesterday. I even used it in my meditation last night. It happens at night the worst. The panic attacks and anxiety. I've been trying to force myself to go to sleep IMMEDIATELY so I don't think about it. Sometimes it works, other times not. My mom suggested I find junk TV to fall asleep to. I started meditating. I suck at distracting myself. I have to learn to embrace the panic and just let it go. Distractions are just a form of procrastination.... Anyway, I am rambling. My point being, thank you. That really made an impression.

    2. That same philosophy teacher told us something in class that I have never forgotten and to which I definitely subscribe: we [in the so-called Western world] have not gotten one smidgeon smarter than the ancient Greeks. Don't get me wrong, I also think it's inaccurate to assume we are 'dumbing down.' The human brain is still the beautiful holder of infinite potential that it's been for thousands of years. We have discovered new things and technology has taken us far, but when it comes to actually thinking about the world, to ontology or gnoseology, there is not much the contemporary homo sapiens can say that the Greeks haven't already said. Personally I find it comforting :)

  2. DEEEEAATH!!!! You have crammed so much into this post that my head is spinning. When we are kids our perception of death seems to be amongst animals. Dogs and cats that die or go missing or dead animals that all the neighbourhood kids know about and periodically visit to check on the level of decomposition. As we grow older we see people that we know die. There is no life without death and one day we will end. Your posts always make me think. Please never stop.

  3. Wow. Crazy story. I'd want to know. Every single detail. What provoked it, how my husband felt, how exactly I was saved, I'd want to know. I'd beg for details. I'd ask again "tell me about the time when..."

    I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of not dying during some horror movie type scene, like an axe crushing my skull halfway and surviving, or being gang raped, or getting hit by a car and being dragged down a highway, or some demon tormenting me day in day out... That's what I'm afraid of. That and my sinuses never clearing up.

    1. That is so weird. The things we worry about. And the things we don't. My mom is afraid of the economy and the government. I could give half a shit about that. And she could give half a shit about death. I guess it works out. And as strange as it is, my "death" problem has nothing to do with pain or violence. For some reason, I have never feared murder or horrifying accidents. Matter of fact, most people who know me tend to think I am a bit reckless. Taking off down dark alleys without thinking. And I am a horrible driver. Mostly on purpose. It would seem I have quite a death wish. Yet it terrifies me. Maybe I think that if I can barrel through life with no fear, that I can cheat death, too? Hmmm...