Trigger warning: Death
They took off my ventilator.
Ten seconds left.
Before I lose.
I stayed at home. I washed my hands. I wore a mask the rare times I went outside. I adapted to the online classes, the Zoom birthday parties and the occasional awkward family group call. I texted till my thumbs were sore and watched television till my eyes were red.
I did it all. I tried. But it wasn’t enough. Clearly. The people who did nothing to save themselves were saved. I did everything to save myself. But it caught up to me. I ran until my lungs were screaming for oxygen. I ran the extra mile. But it still caught up to me. It tapped me on the shoulder, and whispered in my ear, “I win. I always win.”
Why me? My friends didn’t get it. Neither did my family members. I am suddenly overtaken by a pang of jealousy. I’m not a good person. I’m not selfless like my parents. I can’t help but wonder why I was taken, why I don’t have any company where I am going. I am going to be lonely. I hate being lonely.
I should be the one to die. It is best. I was never easy. From the moment I came out of the womb, I was always the ‘difficult one’. Difficult to control, difficult to discipline, difficult to predict. I deserve it. I was never normal. I was never what my parents wanted, what they needed. I always messed up. I always got in the way.
I will be absent forever. I will not be able to celebrate the beginning of a new year, a birthday, or even have a conversation with anyone. I won’t go to college. I won’t get married or have children. I won’t ever fall in love. I won’t get to meet new people. When photographs are taken, will they leave me a spot? Will they say that I would like to sit there this time? Will they push each other to give me some space? Will people remember the person I was before? Or will they remember how I am now, lying on this hard bed, unable to move? Will they remember my laughter, or will they remember when I couldn’t breathe? How will they cope? How will they continue their lives, knowing that a minute organism caused my absence for the rest of time?
They will cope. They must. They have to. I hope so. Loss is a part of life. Death is inevitable. It creeps up, asking for permission to take your soul. But it is just a formality. Just like how your sibling may ask for an item of stationery and you might not give it, but it will leave your possession within time. You can fight with her, but Death is stubborn. Even more stubborn than you. She will ask you, and when you say no, she will take it anyway. If you say yes, she will take it painlessly. I’m trying to give it to her. But I find that it is hard to give up something that has been yours for so long. You grow attached to it. But attachment is futile. The fact is that when your time comes, so will Death.
Everyone will forget about me. They will forget that I existed. When I cease to exist, the memory of me will cease to exist. They will remember me, but only for a limited amount of time. They will cry, or maybe they will laugh. They will drink to me and pray for me. They will sit at dinners, talking about me, until it fades into an awkward, heavy silence. Like my heart monitor. That green line will go up and down, reminiscing me. Then slowly the highs will no longer be high enough and the lows no longer low enough. It will soon even out, like a plain after a mountain range. It will go flat, and there will be a loud beep. Then I will leave.
I think about school, how I used to hate it, hate waking up early in the morning. But now I will never wake up again. I will never get to breathe again. I will never get to walk again, run again. Laugh again, cry again. The world will do it for me. But I hate asking for help. I hate that I can’t do it myself. I always do it myself. It’s getting harder to breathe. Every breath I take makes a sound, almost like a vehicle’s engine trying its best to start up. But this engine won’t. This engine’s petrol is slowly leaking out, making a puddle on the road. The hole is getting bigger, and more fuel is flowing. Everyone knows that it’s unrepairable now. It’s time to let go of this vehicle, time to let go of me. My body begins to shake, without my consent, and my parents look away, unable to take in what will happen in the next two seconds.
Maybe the last time I saw my family, I should have hugged them. I’m not much of a hugger really. I can’t tolerate any hugs, apart from my parents’. They already hugged me, nine seconds ago. It seems like a year. Maybe I should ask for another one. I look at my parents’ worn-out faces, tired from having barely any sleep for the past few months. My father rubs my mother’s hands and shoulders, trying to provide her with some comfort. He looks at me, and a single tear rolls down his cheek, landing on top of my mother’s head. I want to tell him to wipe it off because my mother hates it when water gets in her hair. I want to tell him that I’ll be okay, that I’ll manage. I want to tell him that I’m shaking too, that he should be rubbing my hands before rubbing my mother’s. But I hold it all in. Not because I can’t say it. But because I’m selfishly taking in all the oxygen I can before my body stops functioning.