Yesterday was the first time in my life I can remember knowing that I was about to die.
Forgive me if this post is overly emotional and sentimental and not very polished. Yesterday was an unbearably stirring day for me to say the least, and I want to write about it while it’s all still fresh in my (currently narcotic-laced) mind.
On Friday evening I picked up Brandy Girl, along with two of my best friends AJ and Tobi. We were headed to Las Vegas for a weekend of senseless pleasure and fun. My throat had been fairly scratchy for the 24 hours previous, but nothing horrible. I thought maybe I was experiencing some sort of small allergy or something. By the time we pulled into Vegas six hours later, my throat had gotten much worse. I could no longer deny that I was coming down with something.
Not wanting to put a damper on anyone’s vacation, I purchased all sorts of cold and throat remedies, determined to fight it off. Nothing helped the throat. That night we met our bigger group for some roulette. By the end (and after a nice puff of cigar smoke right in my face from a stranger), my throat was in so much pain that I could hardly function, and we all went back to our hotel for some shuteye.
I didn’t sleep much Friday night, with my throat the way it was. Still determined to not let it hurt the trip, I spent all of Saturday doing whatever I could to get on top of it. I even took some old Lortabs which I take on my travels with me in case I get a kidney stone. They didn’t even phase it. We met the group for dinner that evening and I did my best to smile for photos, even though all I wanted to do was go crawl into a hole and pass out until it was all over. After dinner, Brandy Girl and I headed back to the hotel while everybody else went dancing and back to the casinos.
I don’t know that I slept at all Saturday night. The moment I would start to doze off, my throat would constrict and I’d find myself unable to breathe properly, which would then cause me to cough violently, which would then cause me to hurt even more. At six AM I was sitting on the sofa in our room, praying for ten o’clock to roll around so that I could head over to the local Urgent Care.
I never made it that far, though.
At eight, I tapped Brandy Girl on the shoulder to wake her up. “I need to go to the emergency room,” I whispered. “I can’t breath.”
My breathing had become very shallow and was literally getting worse by the minute. At the rate my throat was constricting, I was afraid I wouldn’t make it even 30 minutes before it clamped shut completely.
And I was right.
We grabbed my car and zipped over to the nearest hospital which was only a mile away. We pulled in and didn’t see any emergency services, and so we asked some paramedics that were walking by. That’s when I really started having problems. My breath disappeared from me. Each tiny attempt at a shallow breath was more like a round of gasping ammunition, counting down the moments to my expiry. The paramedics jumped in their ambulance and had us follow them to the other side of the hospital where the emergency room was.
And that short drive around the hospital was the first time that day that I knew I was about to die. No longer able to get any air into my system, I suddenly experienced what staring death face-on is like. I didn’t see any way that I could possibly survive it.
That was a very interesting moment. It was one that will poignantly haunt me for the rest of my life.
And in that moment, I could think of only one person.
I’ve heard it said that when death stares you down, your life will flash before your eyes. But it wasn’t my life that was flashing. It was Noah’s. Literally.
I was flooded with sadness as I watched the pain he would have to go through losing his dad. The confusion. The hurt. I saw him playing on the playground in elementary school. I witnessed his first dance, his first kiss, and his first true love. I saw him graduate college. I saw him get married. And I saw the pain that was there inside of him all along the way. I saw the way losing me would affect him and haunt him for life.
And it was unbearable.
As we pulled up in front of the Emergency Room, I’m sure Brandy Girl looked at me and thought I was crying because of the pain or the panic. But the pain and panic were the last things I was thinking of. I was bawling (as much as one can bawl when they can’t breathe) tears for my son and for the life that I just saw without me in it.