This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
– T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”
I have been doing a lot of thinking about Tim’s final thoughts on this earth.
The afternoon before he died, I talked to him on the phone after his therapy appointment. Tim was in pretty good spirits considering everything that had been going on for the previous weeks, and it was a positive phone call. Through my extremely impressive detective skills (aka cleaning up my house the next day), I knew he had gone to our favorite local (vegan friendly) burger joint for lunch. He was not acting like a depressed person who was ready to make a reckless decision… until he made that last reckless decision.
After Tim almost died weeks earlier, I asked him what he thought as it was happening. He told me he went, “Oh shit!” and then passed out. Even at the emergency room that night when he was 100% conscious and clear headed, he kept repeating how he couldn’t believe he did that… how he was such a fuck up… how stupid he was, etc. Days after, he told me he thought something inside of him was broken that he couldn’t fix. At the time, I told him that we would get through this and that past mistakes do not mean that someone is unable to be fixed. I never thought he was broken.
As I process the finality of what has happened, all of this haunts me – especially the”oh shit” last thought before becoming unconscious.
My friend’s husband is an ER doctor, so it’s safe to say he’s been around death way more than the average person. She shared with me what he has told her about dying patients. He said that patients have said things like, “It’s time for me to go,” and that if they make a that kind of statement then he generally can’t bring them back. His experience has shown him that there is a moment of clarity and peace as a person knows that it’s their time to go to the other side.
Still, I’m haunted by the, “Oh shit.” The other night, I had a little breakdown when I thought more about my ER doc friend’s comments about death versus what I knew about Tim’s situation. He had so much mental turmoil in life, far more than I ever realized. The thought of him leaving this world thinking “What have I done?” or various versions of “I’m so stupid” running through his mind is too much for me to bear. I said out loud that I needed to know he was okay in order to make it through this, and for him to please let me know if he was okay.
I cried for a while. Eventually, I laid down and tried to get some sleep. I called for Pascale, and she came and put her head on the pillow next to me. She sighed deeply as dogs dog, and nuzzled her nose into the cushion a bit. We both fell asleep nose to nose, with my hand on the soft part of her head.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get my sign that Tim is okay. Maybe her gentle comfort was it? Maybe all I’ll ever know is that the dog who was with him is sleeping peacefully without all these thoughts racing through her mind.