This is a happy one. Not.
When I was little I would think a lot about people dying. My dad traveled on four different planes every single week, and as he would watch (and therefore we would all watch) shows about plane crash investigations when he was home, I became terrified that every week when he left, I would never see him again. I would cry myself to sleep, feeling all the feelings of his death, of never seeing him again. I was so incredibly attached to him, that his death would have been my whole world falling apart.
I would also imagine myself dying, getting cancer or some freak accident. What that would look like. Me in hospital saying goodbye to the few people that I loved and actually loved me.
I’d imagine both by parents dying…being adopted, or going to live with my aunt and uncle. I’d cry, I’d feel devastated, having fully convinced myself it was going to happen (as with all these fantasies), and in the case of my parents dying, even feeling a bit of relief. At the thought of being adopted, or rather just at the thought of being taken in and cared for…of being seen.
When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I nearly died. I came in from outside where I had been playing on my own, and went into the living room where my mum and two brothers were watching tv. I really wasn’t feeling good. I told my mum I felt really dizzy (and I was so scared which I’m sure must have come across in my voice), but I also didn’t want to annoy her, didn’t want to make a big deal out of nothing, didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself, didn’t want to be a nuisance. So when she told me to just go upstairs to my room and lie down, I did. I ignored how terrible I was feeling, how much I wanted to cry and not be left alone, and I just went up. I remember all of this so clearly. And then I remember nothing until I woke up in hospital. But I’ve been told the rest. How my mum sent my brother up to check on me (and its only just occurred to me how crappy that is – that she couldn’t even be bothered to walk up the stairs herself to check on her sick child. Moving away from the tv was apparently too hard, or maybe I just wasn’t worth it). But then my brother shouted her, because what he had found was his paraplegic sister clinging onto the radiator trying to desperately to keep herself upright because she could no longer feel her legs, having thrown up all over the room, lips hands and feet blue, running an extremely high fever, and completely unaware of his being there. Soon to be unconscious for nearly an hour and unable to breathe by herself properly. I was already in that state and hadn’t shouted my mum, and that makes so much sense to me, because I was just a nuisance, annoying to her. Don’t make a big deal out of nothing.
Taken by helicopter to hospital because had I had to wait for the normal road ambulance I’d have been dead. Waking up in hospital completely naked, surrounded by people. At one point 8 doctors all around me trying to help me and work out what was wrong. Not nurses…doctors. 8 of them. Needles and cables and tests and MRI’s. My dad staying overnight. My mum telling people about ‘what i put her through’.
I often wonder what it would have been like for my family had I died that day. I often wish I had. I wouldn’t have felt any additional pain to what I did, I had already gotten to the point of being unconscious and my body shutting itself down.
Would it have been better for them? Probably.
One of my best friends’ mums funeral was the first that I ever went to. My mum was very close to her mum too, and we spent a lot of time together. I’d often stay at their house, and as we both (and my middle brother and her brother who got along pretty well) all got picked up at the same bus stop, they would often just end up at our house for dinner as it was closer than theirs, after our mums had made us sit in the cars at the bus stop for nearly an hour while my friends mum insisted that they were going to go home, before saying sod it and having a glass of wine and dinner. She was funny and beautiful and sociable, and a great mum. My best friend completely loved her. I still remember so clearly the day that our phone rang when I was 13, and my mum shouted me, and I came out from my room and met my mum on the landing with the phone in her hand. She had this look on her face and I just knew something was wrong. She was covering the phone as she told me that it was my friend on the phone, that her mum’s cancer had come back and that she was going to die. I took the phone, and my mum went downstairs (thinking about it now she probably went and listened in on the downstairs phone), whilst I took the phone into my brothers room because that was as far as it would stretch, and paced up and down as she told me that her mum had just told her she was going to die. I was thrown in at the deep end, had no clue what to say or what would help, but somehow I fumbled my way through it, heart in my mouth, feeling sick, and so so sad for my friend. I still feel heartened, and it still brings tears to my eyes that I was the person she called, that I was the one she turned to in tears needing comfort, needing to offload. I asked how long, hoping that it would be at least a hopeful amount of time. 6 months to a year….(fuck). And she didn’t even last 3. Barely 2. I also remember her getting up in the church which was full of people, and standing there reading a poem for her mum beautifully. She didn’t tremor, most likely because she was numb, but whatever the reason she did her mum so proud, and I gave her such a big hug at the reception.
My grandmother died when I was 21. It was sudden, a bleed in the brain caused by the steroids she had been taking for her arthritis. It was, all in all, a good way to go. Sudden, happening before she even realised it. She was rushed into hospital and My parents and I were there in the early hours of the morning, waiting for news and to see her. We did. She was unconscious but stable. There was plenty of family drama at the hospital when my cousins showed up, who hadn’t seen her in years (refused to and were awful to my grandparents), likely because all of a sudden there was potential inheritance. Cynical, but there you go. The next day she was awake, and fully compos mentis. My parents, aunt and uncle, their son (who did have lots to do with them), all got to see her. I didn’t and it often upset me that I missed that one last opportunity. But we were all relieved…she was okay. And she was strong, my nan. I take after her in a lot of ways, and she would never admit to not feeling great or being completely okay. She was strong because of a determination to be that way.
That night she had a second much bigger bleed and we all rushed to the hospital to say goodbye. She was already dead, but being kept alive on a ventilator. Everything happened so quick, and we didn’t have time, and I never got to kiss her goodbye, and it hurts me. Everybody was there, and I didn’t have space, and somebody called me to leave, so I did. Her body heaving noisily as her chest raised and fell, attached to the machines.
Her funeral was terrible for me. Everybody walked in and sat down. My parents with my granddad, and then my cousins, aunts and uncle, etc. I hesitated, because I was on my own, and my middle brother (who also hadn’t seen her in years) went into the pew with his girlfriend of the time who nobody had even met. And then there was no room for me. And nobody noticed. I was alone, and unsure, and left, and I needed to have people that I knew with me, but I didn’t. I was entirely alone, sitting through the service. And then we walked out and I cried and cried, and couldnt stop. My mum made comments about it, and of all the people it was my eldest brother that tried to comfort me. My nan, who I loved, who looked after me every day after school, who was there with me as I did my homework, who I helped make mince pies, who made meringues for me, who had a cup of tea and special biscuits waiting for me when I got into there house off of the bus, who taught me about plants, encouraged me with drawing, who played endless board games with me and my middle brother…was dead. And everything from the minute of the stroke to being outside of the crematorium afterwards, had been awful, and alone. Of all the people to die, I really didn’t want it to be her.
My grandads stroke nearly exactly a year later was a complete contrast. A year long hospital stay and daily visits. Luckily he was in the hospital right next door to my uni, and so I’d pop in after lectures. I cared about him a lot, but we weren’t close. His funeral was okay, in the scheme of things, and I didn’t cry at all. I feel a bit guilty about that.
I often wish I was dead. Best of all would be to just go to sleep and not wake up, to be done with this shitty life. I think about the relief in it. I think about the people i would hurt. I think about my funeral. I think how ashamed it would make my mum (and how that would be one last final ‘fuck you’, that I would have very few attendees. A couple of friends, and thats it. How ashamed my mum would be. Her daughter the loner.
Most of all I’m just tired. I don’t want to be dead, not really. I just want to hibernate. I want a rest. And this would be a rest…a really good one.