Memories of a Dying Man
27 January, 2017
I never imagined what it would be like to be imprisoned by my own body. My mind is working as well as ever but my physical self is beset by paralysis. My days are spent in this chair watching the distant oak tree. I'm lucky to have a window view.
Straight ahead is a blank wall, dilapidated from years of neglect. I've stared at it for such long spells that I've practically memorized each puck mark.
There was a time when my routine consisted of long walks around my hundred-acre property. I had two dogs then and felt a kind of peace. Eventually I was unable to care for them and they were taken away. I'm told they are doing well now, happy even. That's something.
I keep a pair of working boots within eyeshot. It's a reminder of when I was not tethered to this chair. It's part of my mourning, I suppose. I'm trying not to deny the feelings I have. They said it's important to face them head on. To be honest, I'm not sure if I'm truly dealing with them or simply becoming numb. I grapple with this conundrum each day.
I have a recurring dream where I'm set free at last. The daylight burns my eyes as two heavy doors creak open. There is a moment of fear, when the familiar is unfamiliar but I manage to put one foot in front of the other until my whole body is propelled forward. It has never progressed beyond this point.
Have I mentioned the clock sitting on the mantle? I've been meaning to get rid of it. Tick tock tick tock, a perpetual drilling sound in my head. It's not like I need a reminder of the excruciating inertia of time. It has to go.
Someone once said "Without purpose, there is nothing." I understand that now more than ever. I try to occupy my mind with useful thoughts although I can't execute on any ideas I may have. I think that's the most painful part for me.
Mostly I spend hours pondering the possibility of an afterlife. The irony of this makes me laugh given that I was an atheist not so long ago. Never say never as the man says.
Here's a peculiar thing. I don't remember the last time I looked in a mirror. How strange that is in an age of unbounded vanity. Instead, my state of mind dictates my perceived appearance...which is not good, by the way.
Beyond the space I occupy is a room that was once the hub of my daily activities. I would wake up early and, after a walk, brew some coffee and then sit down to attempt to write my masterpiece. I wrote quite a few novels back then and even had one published but the reviews were cruel and I stopped working for almost a year.
I must have been more traumatized than I thought because I never really wrote anything worthwhile again. In fact I sunk into a deep depression.
My daughter took care of me for a long time. She is beautiful and kind and patient. I don't know where she is now. It's enormously frustrating because I can't picture when I saw her last and why she hasn't come to visit. I have absolutely no memory of what happened.
Last night I had an out of body experience. This was not a dream, I was definitely awake. I watched myself get up, walk down the hallway and then return to my chair. Now that might not sound like a monumental feat to anyone else but, to me, it was something magnificent.
Speaking of dreams, another one I've had more than once has me lying in a shallow grave. The air is biting cold and a man in a hat and coat is looming over me. I can taste dirt in my mouth and feel like I'm choking. The sound of a shovel being dragged across the frozen ground is terrifying.
Just before I wake up, a ladder appears next to a tree and there's something else behind it but I can't quite make it out. Each time it's the same. I've tried to decipher a meaning but to no avail.
I fell off a ladder one time when I was young and blacked out for a couple of minutes. Maybe it's a recollection of that experience.
I am taking so many pills for pain, it's a genuine miracle I'm still breathing. I'm not sure why because I feel no pain. In fact I feel nothing at all. I wonder if this numbness is a result of the medication? I'm afraid to find out so I just keep taking it.
All of this might amount to what seems like a miserable life and maybe it is but I can still savor certain things. The sound of the wind is soothing and the chirping of birds gives me an odd sense of hope.
One of the highlights of my day is when the sun streams through the window in the morning. It seems like the beginning of something new, something beautiful, a rebirth.
As I sit here in this moment, dawn has already transpired and the first fingers of sunlight are gliding across the floor. I imagine the smell of fresh brewed coffee and brace myself for another great day.
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