I have never really put much thought into death—at least, not my own. I never understood the point. Death is inevitable, and there’s not much I can do about it now, so why waste my living time? Dread, fear, or existentialism; I made it through 21 years without worrying about any of it. Or so I had thought until one particular night, months ago, when death made its presence known.
Here, death transformed my heartbeat to that of a sure-footed man. Like dress shoes on a hardwood floor, the sound of his pace echoed around my skull. As the man marched and marched, his gait fell slower and slower. With every second my worry grew, filling the growing space in between each step with anxiousness as he continued to slow, unfazed. It was here, lying in dreamy worry at 2 a.m., that a particularly haunting thought entered my head: Would I feel my last heartbeat?
I did not assume it would happen that night, surely, but assuming a quiet death awaited me eventually, the thought of dying peacefully seemed suddenly much less, well, peaceful.
All at once, a feeling washed over me—a feeling not new but never this strong. I longed for a dramatic death, a moment of distinguishable note among the hundreds of deaths shared with my own last few seconds.
Heroics, irony, comedy—I would take any or all. I simply wished my last thought to be superficial in its most honest sense: unaware and untethered. Let me die in a dream and have me continue until I don’t, my final heartbeat unnoticed. Anything would seem better than to spend my final moments agonizingly aware.
As a culture, we usually consider ourselves to be within our minds, not our bodies. There’s a controlling reassurance in that. Mind over matter in the most literal sense. But mind does not matter without the means to communicate itself. To be trapped in a body, as brief as the moment might be, seems most lonely of all.
The sure-footed man resumed a more familiar pace. His point had been made.
I dreamt of a car chase.
Guest columns are written by The Sentry staff writers to give them the experience of writing an editorial and the platform to share their stories.