It was just a little over a year ago that I almost perished. I wasn’t taking good care of myself, worried over money and skipping meals. I worked long hours one day, and other than the coffee at work, neither drank nor ate adequately. That night, a friend showed up at the shop with a bottle of wine, and we drank a few glasses on an empty stomach. Not advisable.
It is the witching hour (3:00 am) and I wake up with a thirst so great that it actually felt like a life or death emergency–complete with sense of panic. I rushed to the kitchen with only the moonlight through the windows to guide the way. I was in a cold sweat, yet burning hot, nauseous, and my arms felt heavy when I raised them to the cabinet for a glass. I stood there in my white nightshirt as the filtered water from the fridge door dispenser poured in. I turned into the doorway to the living room intending to sit down and made it one more step, having not yet taken a single sip…
I’m guessing that low blood pressure, possibly low blood sugar, and obvious dehydration caused me to faint. I know now that I had a ridiculously low vitamin D deficiency, too, that maybe had something to do with it.
Fainting is something you see in the movies a lot more than it actually happens in real life. I’ve never seen anyone *actually* faint, so it was just a caricature to me–a movie stunt.
What happened next is remembered more like an out-of-body experience. The memory is of “throwing” my consciousness across the room, visualized like an old, men’s overcoat, heavy and thick, and that it crumpled with a clunk across the coffee table as if the pockets were full of rocks. I remember a disembodied sensation of violent, awkward pain, as my chin met the edge of the coffee table, that my head almost wrenched free of my neck. I felt very heavy and boney as my chest scraped down the edge of the table, and that the floor hit me rudely hard. This memory is two-fold, both that I was the “coat,” so irreverently cast aside, and I was also observer who threw me and watched me crumple and thunk.
How long I lay there, I don’t know. It felt like a long time that I lay bleeding into the carpet, dreaming. Eventually, I realized that I was very cold, and wondered who stole my covers. Followed closely by, why am I sticky? Slowly I became aware of my blood-wet hair clinging to my face, tangled in my eye lashes…that there were blue lights too close to my face for this to be my bed…oh yeah, those are the lights from the Wii in the TV cabinet….
Where am I? Why am I…?
That is when I noticed the searing pain and touched my face.. that sticky wet was everywhere. Then the nausea…and the gut-wrenching thirst. I tried to sit up, but when my head was raised higher than my heart, I nearly fainted again. So I marine crawled first to the bathroom, leaving a trail of bloody prints on floors, light switches and counters. I wanted a mirror…but seeing what I was at that moment didn’t help. I thought I’d drink from the sink, but the black edges would crowd in whenever I stood up, and there was no cup.
I crawled on hands and knees back through the broken glass I’d dropped in the living room to get to the kitchen again, fainting once in the middle, creating a second bloody puddle, but I made it to the kitchen sink and guzzled down cup after cup of tap water as fast as I could between stints lying on the cold vinyl floor.
I think I lost consciousness a total of 4 times, briefly, before I made it back to my bed, threw back the blankets and lay there under the ceiling fan on the white sheets, so not caring what I was ruining. I was covered in my own blood from head to feet, in a flop-sweat, heart racing, and praying to all that is holy that I may keep living.
I did consider calling 911. I will confess to you that, at that moment, I chose to tempt death rather than rack up a medical bill I have no ability to pay. I wanted to call the man I was engaged to at the time, but it was 4:00 in the morning, and he lived 3 hours away. I knew he would pack his kids into the car, and drive directly to me, but that would only cause him difficulty, and to what end? So, I chose to persevere and not send him into a crazed panic on the highway.
I honestly thought I might die alone in the dark. Mind you, I am not in the least bit afraid of dying, when the time comes. Actually, I look forward to the Next Big Adventure, while being in no hurry to get there, but as I lay there praying to my guides, focusing on the Reiki energy I tapped into, and allowing the water to work it’s magic, I thought about many difficult things.
I thought about how in recent years, I’d been bricking myself into a tower away from the intimacy of true friendships, for fear of losing anyone else that I loved. If I keep them at a distance, I can keep them.
Anger I thought long dealt with welled to the surface; anger at my ex-husband for leaving me to be alone at this moment. Even anger that he had my 11 and 9 year old children at his house and I had no one to cry out for. Where was my promise of “in sickness and in health?”
Then, I thought of my mother who had been in a loving, inspirational marriage, but as fate would have it, died almost 7 years before, snuffed out in a matter of moments from a cerebral hemorrhage while alone. My step-dad was out of state on a fishing trip. Mind you, she called her mother who lived two doors down, and she came running to find her brain-dead on the floor. *My* mommy is dead; I live far away from my family. So who do *I* call to come running?
I thought about many things as I waited for those life-giving waters to work their way through my system. What if I *did* die at that moment? How long would it be before someone noticed I was missing at work? Courtney, my co-worker, would probably find me…would have to call…I dunno…who do you call when you find someone dead? That thought caused me to feel embarrassed, an imposition, not fair to her…
Who would comfort my children? Who would soften the harshness of their father who does not tolerate the expression of unpleasant emotions? Would someone else carry on running The Sojourner? I spent time thinking of all the work still left undone.
I remembered, to my horror, that I’d never updated my will since my divorce! The nurturing of my children, all my assets, and all my dreams, would fall to the person who’d treated me like last week’s garbage, then dumped me off at the curb; all my endeavors would go to shit if I died, and that was reason enough to live!
Drinking the water was enough to restore me. Eventually, I got up, faced myself in the mirror, and took this picture for proof of the horror I’d become. Then I sat in the shower as the water swirled with red down the drain.
In the end, I needed a few band-aids, an aspirin and a few months for the giant knot of a bone-bruise on my chin to heal on it’s own. I am glad I did not waste thousands of dollars of my kid’s grocery money on an ambulance trip because I was too careless to drink a glass of water and have a meal while they were gone.
Moments of clarity like these do not happen randomly, not to witches. These kinds of revelations are like the Universal Gong ringing so loudly in your consciousness, that all your thoughts just fall into harmonious rhythm with Highest Divine Mind. It is sometimes called the Cosmic Clue-by-Four smacking you upside the…chin…in this instance. You can’t help but walk away from that moment a transformed person.
I realized how precious and delicate human life truly is; how stupidly easy it was to kill yourself through neglect. I also realized that it was very important to me to live on and raise my kids myself. I know now that no matter who I have in my life, my home, my heart –ultimately– I entered this life alone, I am solely responsible for my survival while here, and I’ll depart this life alone, but it is up to me to make that trip a healthy one. I was reminded that I have to cultivate the support structure of relationships that I desire.
This all comes to mind because the wheel of the year turns back to these anniversaries once again; of that long hard stare into the maw of death last winter; of the long-distance engagement that ended shortly thereafter on my 40th birthday, of my mother’s death on the day of my 33rd birthday party. While I recognize the passage of these difficult milestones in time, today I am grateful for the lessons they taught me — yet did not kill me — so that I can enjoy the miracle of my life as it is unfolding now, with the correct people.
You know how witchy folks like to say that every moment is both a death and a rebirth? Those were just the labor pains that delivered me into this new, independent life I enjoy as I prepare to celebrate my 41st birthday. It has been a bumpy ski down the slope of that “hill” I went over last year, but DAMN what a thrilling ride! I couldn’t be happier, and I’m much healthier now.
Thank you, Cosmic Clue-by-Four. I remain open to your lessons, but next time, I humbly request that the experience not leave my house looking like a scene from Pulp Fiction, nor require professional carpet cleaning to remove blood from ALL THE THINGS. Though, I’ll keep these scars as a gentle reminder.
Happy (almost) birthday to me!