People drop like flies every day.
Well maybe not like flies, but proportionately at a similar rate perhaps.
So what is stopping me from doing the same?
I lay in my bed in September 2014, in a hotel in Rotorua having attended the first day of a 5 day NZEI conference. I had literally finished 6 weeks of relieving the day before. Everything was new and the future, though promising, was somewhat unknown.
I knew no-one I had travelled with from Whangarei. I knew their names, I knew …. no that is about it. I knew their names. I wasn’t sure which school they were associated with, what their role was in NZEI, or in fact what NZEI’s role was. And much less, I knew nothing of my role.
We had enjoyed some ‘pre-conference’ drinks together, and had nibbled on bits of food that had floated through the crowds.
I felt like crap. Actually I was utterly exhausted and I felt like crap. I had been to see the cardiologist two weeks prior to this evening. And I had felt like crap then too. But there was nothing they could do. They had suggested I slowed down. I honestly felt if I slowed down, I’d grind to a halt. And mentally flippantly, decided I’d rather drop dead.
And then here I was. Lying in bed. Feeling like crap. With a heart crashing into my rib cage at random, and frequent moments. My head hurt. My body wanted to sleep. But my heart just kept crashing irrationally away. I did try to think. But just one thought dominated my mind - People drop like flies every day.
I knew if I closed my eyes I too might mimic a fly - and drop out of existence.
The thing that got me though - was that no body would know. Fiona isn’t a great communicator. My parents would not want to disturb me at the conference. And no body I had travelled with really knew me. They weren’t even staying on the same hotel floor as me.
I could drop out of existence for days. And nobody would know.
Of course, in the irrational moments before midnight, I wondered if anyone would care. But I knew I had to fight that thought. I knew in my heart that wasn’t true - but my heart wasn’t behaving particularly rationally at that moment.
It was crashing all over my rib cage.
Last time I had felt this exhausted, I had shared a room with Anne Kennelly. She had woken in the night, and just her simple presence had kept me alive. Well that is how it felt on reflection. That is how it felt as I lay there on my own, wondering if I had the energy to breath through the night.
As my eyes began to wilt, I wondered if this is what it was like for other who had died in their sleep. Is there something you know about when you close your eyes for the last time. Is there a sense of finality, a calm sense of finality - or does it just happen regardless?
I knew I wasn’t going to die that night because I had a conference to attend. And besides how many people actually die on their own, in the night, in a hotel, and no body notices for days?
Well it does happen. Maybe not often, but it does happen. And my next question to myself was more poignant. What logical reason is there that it couldn’t happen. That it won’t happen. If the moment has arrived, it doesn’t wait for logic. It just happens.
It happens for some people during sex. It happens for some people with their morning cup of coffee. It happens for some people when, in a split second they forget to look, or they type a txt, or they lean too far, or slip on ice, down a ski field, or cycle down a ramp, or leave their keys in the car, or close their eyes at night.
I couldn’t close my eyes that night.
I didn’t want to close my eyes that night.
At 5am I wondered if I had cheated death.
At 6am I woke with fright.