When I lay dying, not much went through my head. Most people have a predilection for what they will envision when the moment occurs: lights at the end of a tunnel, a roller coaster reaching the top of a tense climb and then easily gliding down the other side, Uncle Joe smiling and holding an outstretched hand, regrets about not taking that long cruise instead of the weekend up North. But it did not happen to me. Nothing like this entered my mind.
Firstly, it took longer than expected. More of an elongated blur of several unpleasant moments than a tidy scene from a cop movie, where the bullet-holed partner gets some minutes of reflection.
Secondly, there was order to it. Food was regularly provided at the same times daily (but not always eaten). Friends and family came by and spoke softly (or not at all) during scheduled hours. Doctors magically appeared (but only between 9-5) and tinkered with cold steel devices, frowned over charts, then suddenly stepped out of the room. Nurses indifferently checked vitals every 2 hours, 24 hours a day. A TV was set up, and I could watch whatever I wanted. Nothing was asked of me, and nothing was expected. It was easy.
When I went through treatment, I know some things were going through my head. They're becoming difficult to recall. I've chosen to forget this time in purgatory for some reason, although I may have envisioned (flickering) lights and a very long tunnel.
Since I’ve rejoined the living, a lot goes through my head. Most people who have reached the zenith of trade and status now seem lacking in any meaningful leadership. Everything around me seems more frail and mortal. I find myself smiling at children a lot, also old people - especially old couples. I try to visit friends more, or at least attend their children’s birthday parties when asked. Work is accomplished, but hardly at the maddening pace it used to get done. I listen to a lot more music now, as much since my teen years. I recognize little things all the time: pleats in pants, swimming lanes that are divided for the slow, medium, and fast people, coffee shops that have posts to leash your doggie to and the like. I feel the need to honour my wife and family more then ever, but find myself slipping back to old habits.
Elliot very much lives in Toronto, Canada.
The above was written by Elliot, my first guest poster.