Saturday, August 9, 2008


It's been a long time since I've written a "real" post to this blog. Call it writer's block, or laziness, or whatever you want--the fact is I've been feeling rather flat lately, emotionally speaking. I've been filling in my time with reading, watching baseball on TV, anything to avoid admitting to myself that I'm mildly depressed, and to keep from obsessing about death.

Today I turned off the small TV we keep in the computer room. John had been watching the Olympics while working on his computer. I rarely watch that set, so I noticed that it turns off in a different way from the living room TV--it fades very quickly to a spot, making a buzzing sound as it does so, then goes dark.

While riding to get the takeout, I found myself remembering a poem I first read in high school, by Emily Dickenson:

I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died --
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air --
Between the Heaves of Storm --

The Eyes around -- had wrung them dry --
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset -- when the King
Be witnessed -- in the Room --

I willed my Keepsakes -- Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable -- and then it was
There interposed a Fly --

With Blue -- uncertain stumbling Buzz --
Between the light -- and me --
And then the Windows failed -- and then
I could not see to see --
I'm not a big Dickenson fan, but this poem surely captures the most we can guess about the moment of death, and evokes the visceral fear that I believe most people feel about dying, whether they admit it or not.

Mostly I fear that I won't be able to breathe to breathe, if you know what I'm trying to say. My obsessing over death the past few months has made it difficult for me to enjoy the summer. I do a lot of lying around, and am ashamed to have become such a couch potato. I keep expecting for something--liver or kidney failure, brain metastases--to come and announce to me that this is it, you only have a few months, or weeks.

What a waste. Why can't I stop?

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