“Has it changed you?” my friend asked.
“Has what changed me?” I asked in reply.
“Your near-death experience.”
“Has it changed me, huh? You know, I’ve been asking myself the same question.”
It turned out that last month’s week at the hospital was brought about by a nasty version of the flu. Nasty enough to damn near kill me by constricting my airway to the point that I was a hair’s breadth away from an emergency tracheotomy, but not nasty enough to warrant its own letters and numbers or name it after me. I think my sister and Mom (doctors both) didn’t want to scare me while I was in the ICU, but a couple of weeks after I recovered, my sister said that “it was touch and go for a moment there,” amd Mom just yesterday said she’d never seen me so ill. I do remember, at a couple of the worst moments, thinking “Is this what dying feels like?”
I’m glad to still be here. Although I’m grateful for having what I like to think has been a pretty full life, I’m not ready to do an early check-out from Hotel Mortal Coil. But sooner or later, the hotel management eventually, and often forcibly, evicts each one of us.
“I don’t think I’ve changed in the way that you sometimes hear about in the news, or see in the movies,” I said. “You know, like going crazy and taking up base jumping, or maybe running away and joining a commune or any other freak-out that you’re supposed to have after a near-death experience. It’s not so dramatic. It’s a little more subtle…
I’m still doing things that are me, just…more so.”
He gave me this look that appeared to be a mix of “Oh, I see,” and “Oh, shit.”