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Over the next couple hours, the hospital staff shoved paperwork in front of my face and left me to sit, still unable to breathe in the waiting area. I vaguely remember people telling me, “I know it doesn’t feel like it, but you are breathing. You are getting air. You are okay.” I remember much more than that not getting any air. I remember wondering why me dying wasn’t of concern to people the way it should have been. I remember having no energy or ability to express that concern.

I remember twice more my breath left me completely while I waited to be treated. All I could whisper to Brandy was, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.” And in those two moments I saw Noah’s life flash in front of my eyes again.

And in those two moments I lost it completely and again started weeping.

My sexy sexy hospital bracelets.
My sexy sexy hospital bracelets.

The third episode lasted much longer. It got to the point where I could only lean back in my chair and wait for death to take me. I was so sure it was about to happen. I lacked the ability to really tell anybody just how bad it was in that moment. I lacked the ability to tell anybody that my final moments were upon me. So I leaned back, and while clutching my throat in agony, wept for my son. And waited.

And suddenly, another thought hit me while I waited on death.

Am I okay to die right now?

That was the simplified version.

But when you’re dying, everything comes to you in very simplified ways. A single thought includes a hundred different thoughts; I don’t know how else to explain it.

At the same time that I thought am I okay to die, I concomitantly thought about all the current ways I am living my life. I thought about my spiritual practices and beliefs. I thought about having left behind the religion that I was born into. I thought about my efforts as a father so far. I thought about the way I loved others. I thought about how I treated the people I love. I thought about how I treated strangers. I thought about heaven and hell and if there was a place in either one for me. I thought about the way I’ve used my platform here with all of you. I thought about countless other things, too. And, like I said, I thought them all in the exact same moment that I thought the more simple thought, am I okay to die right now?

And I just knew. If it was my time, I was okay to die. I knew that I’ve lived what I believe and that I really do believe what I believe. I knew that I had done everything I could to be a voice for good in this world. I knew that I had done everything I could to be a good human being. I knew that I have been a good friend. I knew that I have been a good father. I knew that the love inside of me was strong enough to carry me into a good place wherever I was going. And, leaning back against the chair with my hand still clasping my throat, I continued to weep, this time very different tears.

Happy tears.

“Mr. Pearce, we’re going to go get you some shots now that will help you breathe, okay?”

I couldn’t answer.

They wheeled me into a room and I soon found myself face down on an exam table with my naked butt exposed. “This is probably going to hurt a lot,” the nurse said.

I couldn’t answer.

And he stabbed something into my right cheek.

“That shot was a powerful steroid that will help your throat open up.”

I couldn’t answer.

And he stabbed something into my left cheek.

“That shot was a powerful pain reliever so that you don’t hurt anymore.”

In the middle of all of it, I remember them yelling things like “don’t you dare flex your butt muscle,” and “that one’s gonna be a bleeder.”

I couldn’t really respond to anything.

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