I remember the time I died better than anything else because that's what happens when you're hanging on by a thread. The lights were bright - not the lights leading me into the Kingdom of God, as they call it, but the lights of the ambulance as it roared through the streets to the hospital. The nurse asked me about my brother, and I remember that I didn't know where he was. The last time we had spoken was on the phone because he was at college and I never saw him. He called me Boo, just like everyone else, only with him it was different because he was one of those athletes, the tough ones, who scoffed at torn muscles and broken limbs but softened a little when he called me that. The lights shone in my eyes and I wanted to sleep but they wouldn't let me. I couldn't ask because my mouth had been stuffed with cotton; I was suffocating. I could feel the nurses hand in mine, rubbing my skin with her thumb, and I wanted her to stop because I needed that hand to claw at my throat so they would know that I needed them to save me right then and not at the hospital. I thought I was going to die, and when I thought about that, I thought about God. I wondered what it would be like to die. I thought about that a lot when I was little and sometimes wrote stories about my death in my journals. I wasn't scared, just curious, and I felt myself begin to slip so I thought about what it was like to be little when everything didn't hurt so much. I kept thinking about God but then I started thinking about dancing around my church with no shoes on in the middle of a service. I don't know why I was doing it or why no one stopped me, but I remember twirling around because that was when the floor was tile and not carpet like it is now. I used to go out back and look for the devil while my mother was singing and sometimes I thought I was him in the trees, but I was so little and my eyes still played tricks on me so I could never be sure. I wondered why I only saw the devil at church and maybe that's why I don't believe in God anymore, but none of that mattered with the lights in my eyes because believing in God seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I didn't end up dying obviously since I am here, writing this now, but I still think about it a lot and wonder why it made sense to believe in God in the ambulance but not in the room after the doctor told me I would be okay and the cotton had been cleared from my mouth and my lungs. I love religion, I really do. At camp one year we looked at pictures of Jesus from all around the world - I loved them all, especially the ones with the crown of thorns stabbing into his brow and the blood dripping down his face because I know that's how it really happened and that's what made it so beautiful. I was a strange child, I knew, because I was the only child who didn't get scared of the blood of religion. I found a dead bird once in the backyard of the church where I used to see the devil, and I felt so sick in my heart because I knew it couldn't fly anymore, but I didn't run away from it like the other kids because I couldn't leave it bleeding on the ground alone. Maybe that's why I think about death too much, especially the time I consider to be my own death. I remember waking up in the hospital so I know this isn't all a dream (reality, that is), but I consider it my own death because that was the only moment where I thought God could exist. I knew I had to have died because as soon as the cotton began to leave my throat and the life began to flood back into me, God retreated back into the clouds again and I stopped looking for him and started looking for my mother's warm, awaiting hand instead.
Stream of Consciousness
May 24, 2010