Death knocks lightly

weather the storm

Seattle, January 1993.

I’m happy to get out of the cold rain, and enter my ‘home’. I live in the basement of a run down house complete with water leaks, two inch wolf spiders, and shady people (my roommates) walking in and out of the building at all times. A fire hazard waiting to happen, this house would eventually burn to the ground in a few years.

Anyway, I open the door to my room, close and lock it, turn my small electric heater on, and wait for it to warm up my space. I feel a sense of gratitude to whoever left the heater here, even though I know it will take a good 45 minutes before my place feels toasty. I’m off for the next couple of days and have been looking forward to being out of the elements. I couldn’t wait to be home.

Seattle is colder than what I’m used to, but I’m adjusting after being here for a year. Even with that adjustment, I still hold some serious anger from my past. I’m angry with certain people and frustrated by my lack of progress in life. I also hate the noise of a house full of college students, drug dealers and users, and other stragglers that managed to make this their home.

I’m full of hate. (It took me awhile to understand who I was really angry with and wouldn’t realize that until the next day.) My hate is somewhere in the background, but today, something else has my attention.

I feel a little sick, and I know something’s not right with me. “It’s ok, I’ll just get some rest,” I tell myself.

I get out of my wet clothes, the heat is picking up, and I shiver a little as I get underneath my blankets. It feels good to be in bed even if I don’t feel good.

But something is vaguely familiar…

Pneumonia

I’ve had pneumonia twice in my life. Fortunately, my parents brought me to the doctor both times for successful treatments.

I took antibiotics both times, and learned that if pneumonia is not treated properly, death can result. I also heard that having pneumonia makes someone susceptible to having it again.

I’ll never forget the symptoms – the pain, the aches, the bed sweats, and the green stuff that oozed its way of out my body.

Could I have it again??

The Storm

I don’t know how long I’ve been sleeping. I wake up.

My entire bed is soaking wet. I feel disoriented and lost. I change the sheets but know I’m in bad shape.

My body aches, but I’m happy to get back into bed with dry sheets.

I close my eyes…

I’m not sure how much time elapsed, but now I’m being attacked by black shapes. I try to open my eyes, but I can’t. The black shapes are moving fast and I can’t keep up. I’m hallucinating I think to myself, but I hate them. I hate that they’re here to torment me. I hate them for forcing themselves into my psyche. I feel like I’m being punished.

Why are you torturing me?

I’m able to wake up, but they’re still inside. I feel sluggish and weighted down by their occupation. I groan, and think to myself, leave me the f*** alone!

For some reason I think they can hear me. Maybe they can. I look at the time, and realize I’ve been in bed for over 10 hours. I manage to use the bathroom, come back to bed and close my eyes. They’re still here.

I try to sleep some more, but the pressure is too intense.

The suffering goes on for a few more hours, gaining in intensity and momentum. It’s so unbearable.

Slowly it begins to dawn on me. I’m going to die.

I feel like I’m going to die, and now I just want it over with. My fight has led to despair, and with one last prayer, I say to any benevolent entity that’s listening, “Please, please… just take my life. I don’t want to live anymore. Just take me.”

I never seriously asked God for anything before, but this wasn’t an ask. I was begging.

I slip into darkness.

The next day

I awake. My bed is soaked from my sweat. The black shapes are gone and I feel a great sense of relief. I feel liberated. I lay in the bed, somewhat achey and sore, and look at the time. 16 hours have passed, but it feels like much more. Each moment I had with those black shapes felt like an eternity.

What happened to me? I thought I was on my death bed. I just knew it. I never felt that type of suffering before. I never experienced a psychic onslaught of that magnitude in my entire life.

But here I am. Alive, and actually feeling good. Not good, but much better than where I was, and ready to begin again.

I thought and reflected on what happened and made a decision. No, it was more like a declaration.

From today forward, I will make the best of my life. I will learn what I need to learn to be my best. I will stop being so angry towards people because they’re all out of my control. I will be a better person overall.

A message for you

The closeness of what felt like death brought me more life in the end. I never wanted to suffer in that manner, but it’s helped me find myself much faster.

You’re alive on this planet and reading this post, but a storm is coming. It doesn’t care who you are, what status you hold in society, or where you came from. It’s coming to all of us. Just weather the storm. You have enough in you to do that.

It will knock you over. Get back up.

It will soak you down to your bones. Change your sheets.

It will send unspeakable fears through your mind. Face them.

It will make you wanna give up. Don’t.

There’s something on the other side of this storm that no one talks about…

Your best self. Claim it.

I believe in you.

Paul