There are times when death feels so close yet so far.
Those were the nights.
I would toss and turn in bed, willing my brain to veer away from unwanted thoughts, only to be haunted by dreadful illusions the next moment. I would pick up a book and try my best to absorb each word, only to leave the bookmark untouched and give up pretending in the end.
And then I would fall asleep, the kind of sleep that is heavy, the type that drags my heart to the bottom of the ocean until I fall into the abyss of the unknown. One moment I was fighting my way to sleep and the next thing I knew, I was having the worst dream of my life.
I was losing all of my teeth. I was falling endlessly into God knows where. I was being stabbed to death by a monster whose face I’ve become acquainted with in the past years. And then I would wake up from those nightmares, only to find out in the morning that reality is more terrifying than these dreams.
“It was a meditation on life, love, old age, death: ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them.”
― Gabriel García Márquez,
I tried to convince myself that I had always been prepared for this.
Those were the days.
My alarm would go off three hours before my shift at work. I would force myself to get out of bed because I knew that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to make it on time. Still, I would hit the ‘snooze’ button and fall back to sleep, only to wake up two hours later. I would go to work hoping that the day would end sooner, killing the time by pretending to be interested in my work and faking a smile whenever a co-worker tried to spark a conversation. I would keep my head high for eight hours when in reality, I was constantly willing the weekend to come faster than usual. It was a routine that I would never get used to. What a fucking boring, useless, shameful life it was.
And then I would go home, not to rest but to fix myself a drink. That was my favorite time of day: the moment when I could finally start to drink the night away. Optimism was not in my dictionary. Happiness was a strange sensation I’ve long forgotten. Life was but a dream, but melancholy was forever. Death was an old enemy that wanted to befriend me. Still, I stood there–breathing, laughing, talking, working, crying, living. Truth was, inside, I was dying.
“Marla’s philosophy of life is that she might die at any moment. The tragedy, she said, was that she didn’t.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Three years ago, my neighbor committed suicide.
I was browsing my Facebook feed at work when I saw the news: a college student committed suicide in a church after confessing to the priest that he was gay. I’ve read different forms of suicide, but this one shook me to the core. I never met the kid personally–he was a wallflower who became an instant celebrity when he died. I wish I had the nerve to do what he did. What a courageous act, I thought.
Since then, I had always forced my creative juices to cooperate and help me come up with a unique way to die. I wanted to be like that kid. If I couldn’t make my life worthwhile, I could at least make my death worth remembering. But I couldn’t think of anything.
I could try to jump off a high-rise building, swallow cyanide, jump on train tracks, hang myself, die from an overdose, cut my wrists, cut my throat, or stab myself, but these physically painful suicide methods were clichés. I didn’t want to be a cliché.
“Nothing resembles a person as much as the way he dies.”
― Gabriel García Márquez,
After months of wallowing in self-pity, drowning myself in the pool of my own misery, smoking thousands of cigarettes, and gulping down millions of glasses of alcohol, I was finally able to make up my mind.
I settled for the less physically painful, but it is the kind of pain that I would have to endure for the rest of my life. This is the kind of suffering preferred by the brave souls. I chose to live, and that’s more savage than any form of suicide. To live is to suffer eternally from the pain that is life. Slowly, but surely. After all, no person is braver than the one who chooses to live.
This is my entry to my college friends and I’s weekly blog challenge.
This post was featured on Mogul.