Just The Way I Am - Jo Watson
I imagined the moment of my death would be different to this.
Firstly, why was it so dark? Where was the bright light that I was supposed to be calmly walking towards? Look, it’s not like I was expecting a rotating disco ball or ultraviolet lights or anything that exciting, but there was nothing. I would have settled for flickering candlelight at this stage.
And why wasn’t my life flashing before me? Why wasn’t I watching all the beautiful, poignant, happy moments playing out on a big screen in front of me while sitting comfortably with God, or whoever, eating popcorn?
And more to the point . . . why couldn’t I even remember my life? I was sure I’d had a life, right? But in that split second where I’d stood there, balancing precariously between this life and the next, consciousness flicking on and off, on and off . . . there was simply nothing. Not a memory, not an image, not an anything. And then, it stopped flicking altogether and with a loud sound that filled my skull and bashed against the back of my eyeballs, it all went black.
I can’t tell you how long I stayed there in the darkness. The only company I had was the deafening thump of absolute silence. Silence that pulled so hard and heavy on me, I knew I must be close now . . .
Death. I could feel it. Dragging me under, pulling, calling me, and then . . .
Halle-bloody-lujah. I was finally hearing a voice.
“Stay with me, stay with me,” the voice said.
“Is that you, God?” I said in my head, but for some reason I thought I could hear it too. Wait, had I said that out loud? But dead people can’t speak . . . can they?
“No, my name is Noah. I’m a paramedic. You’ve been in an accident.”
“Noah? Why are you here? Are you finished with the animals?” I asked in a strange, unfamiliar voice.
“Two by two by two,” someone sang. I think it was me, I’m not sure. “Are we on the boat now? It feels like we’re moving. I hope I don’t get seasick.”
“Um . . .” There was a long pause and I tried to open my eyes to look at Noah. Why wasn’t he speaking to me anymore?
“NOAH!” I think I shouted.
“I’m here. What’s your name?” He took my hand, and this small action seemed to awaken every single part of my body that had previously not been responding.
My eyes fluttered open, God my head hurt. “A-am . . . I dead?”
“No! You’re very much alive.”
I think I smiled; I couldn’t tell. My lips felt far away from my body, as if they were disconnected. In fact, everything felt disconnected and far away and I got the feeling that in order to be whole again I would need to pull bits of myself back together.
“What’s your name?” Noah asked again, squeezing my hand in a manner that made me feel utterly safe. I squeezed back with all the energy I could muster. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to feel strangely connected to him. I tried to look at the person attached to the hand, but the images in my field of vision were obscured by a blurry mist.
“What’s your name?” the question came at me again.
“Uh . . . it’s . . . uh . . .” More strange sounds came out of my mouth. “My name is . . .” I scanned my mind, but it was blank.
“What?” The blurry face leaned in.
“It’s . . . It’s . . .” I reached into my mind and grabbed hold of something, but as soon as I tried to pull it towards me, it slipped away. “I . . . I . . . don’t know! I don’t know!”
Noah put his other hand over mine and a rush of warmth shot up my arm and momentarily made the pain in my head just a little bit better. “That’s alright. Take your time.”
I nodded at him and closed my eyes tightly, despite the hot, sharp, bolt of pain that ripped through my skull as I did. I imagined myself climbing into my mind, as if it were a dark cave. I crawled across its cold floor, I scanned its interior, but still, nothing.
I stretched my arms out and grabbed at the emptiness, like casting a net into the sea, and then pulled my hands towards me to see if I had caught anything. But the net