There’s a moment some nights, right after I turn out the light and I’m lying in bed, that I think, “One of these days you’re not going to wake up, you know.”
That’s followed by a second of total terror, when I open my eyes again and take in whatever I can see of the dark room—I should point out, this moment is different from the moment just before I turn out the light, when I look around the room and ask myself what the hell am I doing here? This last question only comes to me when I’m at grad school, and I’m happy to report it’s occurring with less frequency.
That other moment, though, that happens wherever I am.
So there I am, lying in the dark and trying to imagine what everything just ending is like. Is there a slow drawing down of the senses, like drifting off to sleep but not being quite sure of the moment when sleep actually overtakes you? If it happens suddenly, by some accident or abrupt onset of illness—think massive coronary—I’d imagine it would just be like someone turning off the TV: Boom, show’s over. Nope, not gonna find out who shot J.R. Because you’re J.R., and this time you didn’t pull through after Kristin Shepard plugged you. (Sorry. Spoilers!)
Look, I don’t think I dwell inordinately much on the idea of death in general or the subject of my own mortality in particular, but rather I think we don’t think about these things often enough, which is not news to anyone, really. But I don’t want to think about it in that hair-pulling, hand-wringing “oh my God we’re all gonna DIEEEE!!!” kind of way. Because that’s just not very interesting. What is interesting to think about are all the amazing or horrifying or completely mundane things that are going to happen after us that we’re going to miss out on. Personally, I’d love to be around when people start leaving the planet again. But we don’t get to call those shots.
It’s cropping up in my writing more and more often too. Actually, considering that one of the main characters in my first novel is dead from beginning to end, I’d say it’s been a theme, yeah?
On the bright side, I have to say these things don’t keep me awake at night. I still manage to fall asleep just fine.
What do you think about right before you fall asleep?