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....
I find peace in that.
I find peace in that.