They say you can’t die in a dream, but I can, and when I woke up this morning, I was definitely dying. It started out harmless enough, like a lot of other dreams, where I’m acting out a part. I was playing the role of a father – odd and badly cast – who was a spy. And I had a box with two pills – three, actually, though I’m not sure what the last was for. (Maybe it was inspired by the “Reached” series. I don’t know.) But my enemy came – I knew he would – and demanded I take the pill that would end my life – I also knew he would. So I took the placebo – only I had to conceal the box in the shadows and they looked too much alike. And it less than a minute before I realized, I’d take the wrong one. I was not happy but resigned. That pill had no counteractive. What was done was done and there was nothing left to do except bade goodbye to my daughter and face death like the spy-man I was.
Only that scene was over and the real Lindsey had taken the wrong pill as well. And then it wasn’t acting. I was alone. The world reeled. I’m going to die and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
I’m dying. This is what dying is like.
I’m panicked but also watching with objective curiosity I’ve developed as a writer.
It feels like my brain flips a channel. Everything goes from the black you see when you close your eyes to a blinding white. My brain explodes in noise and makes a high ring. My body convulses and I curl up. I only have a minute or so left. What am I going to do? I should call my parents, let them know what happened, let them know I love them and that this was a mistake I didn’t mean to make.
I rally myself, roll over in my bed and reach for the phone.
But…I don’t want to die.
But you are. And you will. And there’s nothing you can do.
But I’ve got to try. Even if they can’t save me. Even if they don’t believe my story. I’ve got to go out fighting.
I make my choice. There’s no time to say goodbye if I’m going to make any shot at living. I focus eyes that won’t be still, thumb in 911 – wrongly. Try it again. I don’t remember if it rings or not because my stomach convulses again and I’m forced hunched forward again.
And that’s when I wake up. In my bed, just like the dream, only facing the wrong way. There’s no phone. I panic, still dizzy before I realize, there’s no pill. In fact, there’s nothing in my body that can potentially have a bad or unusual reaction.
Relief floods. I’m not dying – though I still feel like if I fall back asleep my brain’s going to give the command and trick my body into it.
Time to get up. Time to live.
And after I calm down a bit, I realize, I can live.
I’ve been given another day, a chance to live a life that could be snuffed at any moment – but isn’t and hasn’t. All those dreams I thought I lost are still within reach. All those people I wanted to tell goodbye are still here. I’m still here.
I have no idea where this dream came from but I know what I’m going to do. Today, I’m going to live.
Live with me, Friend.