My bronchitis has been acting up lately. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, usually getting attacked by the ‘wretched wheezes’ anytime I overexerted myself whether physically, emotionally, or psychologically. It’s been pleasantly dormant for quite some years now and hence I was very surprised when it sneaked up on me on a much unwelcome surprise visit a couple of weeks ago. As it was mostly a lingering memory at the back of my head, I forgot how unpleasant it actually is. Only being able to draw extremely short breaths of air and having to quickly exhale and then repeating the process without getting any relief is so tiresome than I sometimes find myself actually holding my breath because breathing has become such a bother. Of course, having a physical body and all that means that’s not the wisest thing to do. Sure enough, instincts take over and I start gasping for oxygen even worse than before.
At times like that, I sometimes wonder if one day this is what it’ll be like when I die. Will I be struggling for survival then? What would it take for me to override my instinctual grasp on life and just let go?
Now, this is not a melodramatic cry for help nor is it a pathetic suicidal attempt announcement. Melodrama is overrated and suicide is just a tad too selfish. Not too mention distastefully unsightly. This is just a healthy curiosity towards death. After all, death isn’t something I’m afraid of. If anything, I’m much more intimidated by pain. The way I see it death is just the beginning of another adventure which at the same time serves as an ending to an increasingly predictable one anyway.
So yea, back to death, or more exactly, dying. While most people are preoccupied with what happens after, I’m more interested in what’ll happen right before and at the exact time of. Will I know that I’m about to die? What kinds of thoughts will run through my head? Will they be profound or inconsequential? Precisely a nanosecond before my heart beats for the very last time, how will I feel? Do I have any control over any of these? Does it even matter?
And do you know the most ironic thing of all? For someone like me, who if not exactly obsessed with death is awaiting for it eagerly, it usually don’t come quickly. In fact during the course of my life I’ve randomly met three fortune tellers who all told me that I’m going to live to a ripe old age. A really ripe old age. Blah. Truthfully the thought of getting old ranks second after pain on The List of Things I’m Most Scared Of. And it just seems so unfair. For example, I have a dear friend who for years lived without a kidney, and he had to go to the hospital twice a week where they hooked him up to a hemodialysis machine for hours. I know this because I used to accompany him there. Luckily, he’s got a transplant a few years back but his doctor said there’s no absolute guarantee that it will work out. Still, he perseveres through life. Trudging on and enjoying life the best that he can. If only there’s a way for me to give him several years of my share, I would (I offered him my kidney once but he refused. I meant what I said, though. You only need one anyway, right?).
If it seems that I’m ungrateful, I don’t think I am, really. And it’s not that I’m unhappy. Sometimes it just feels like too much of a good thing. It’s like receiving a gift and returning it at the store because you know you’ll never use it. It doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate the gesture, but it’s not something you want or even need. Unfortunately this is one gift you have to live with.