Fantasizing about the comfort that comes from it, from dying, has nothing to do with wanting to be dead.
(Perhaps in a way it’s more unhealthy to cling to life or your perception of)
I, we, walked a fine line for a long time.
In a parking lot of some 7-11. Loren and I. I remember him hitting me, and then I felt so warm. So so warm, uncomfortably warm. I opened my door for air. I woke up on the floor with sirens and lights and people standing over me. In true addict fashion I looked for loren and asked if we were going to jail. He was crying hysterically. He told me I fell out between shallow breaths. He followed us to the hospital. The paramedics were cold and cruel. Utterly indifferent, aside from one man. He was strong, tall. A black man. He held my hand and told me that I was lucky but at the time I didn’t want to hear it. Near death was but an inconvenience. The police questioned me and I told them I had nothing for them. “You have to tell me your name.” We sat in the hospital all night long, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am. Finally we left. Loren kept the drugs that remained in his shoe. I thanked him for not throwing them away. I headed to my outpatient treatment facility and I did like I always did- kept it together.
When fentanyl was first introduced to our town the supply outweighed the understanding. When Loren and I got high, I always went first (and other disturbing facts of chivalry.) We were at home. He hit me and I really don’t remember. I woke up in the bath tub soaking wet. Very confused. Loren hadn’t gone yet. Sometime during my own confusion, Loren did his shot. I was okay by then, walking. He was standing in the living room and he fell heavily against the wall. His face went blank. His eyes rolled backwards as he fell to the floor. I’d never been so scared or aware. (10 ways to sober up). I screamed in his face as i drug his dead weight to the bathroom. I didn’t know what to do. My younger sister was there and I directed her to call 911, he wasn’t waking up. I put what of his body I could in the shower and ran cold water. My mom was in the office down the hall, and came over. We tried to wake him until the paramedics arrived. They gave him a shot of narcan and his eyes came alive again. He shook his head a few times. We did half a bag each later that night.
During none of this did we WANT to die. There was no driving need, no goal to accomplish. But death was always present. It lingers. I’ve never met an addict who killed themselves on purpose, but I’ve never met an addict who tried particularly hard not to die. It’s a dance, sick and deranged. An ultimate complacency. We’ve lost at least 5 familiar faces since we moved to PA, easier without the roots, without the love. Without the friendship that makes it painful. Proximity and other things you come to terms with. I always wonder how well our friends are truly doing, being so far. Social media is a lie, and looking back on mine gives me proof. Addiction breeds liars out of comfort.
I owe my cleanliness to Loren and his inability to hold his shit together. I was always functioning, sly, able to pass it off. But the kid just couldn’t. His head would bob back and forth, his eyes half-open. Perpetually. I hated it. Now I value it. Perception and other movement.
A moment for all those who fell asleep and never woke up. I will burn a candle today for the people I loved, the people Loren loved, who are gone from our grasp. Our touch. I’ve had dreams about people I never knew and can’t help but wonder. It’s my baby shower and I can’t help but think of death alongside life. New life. I owe a lot to luck and timing. It always, just as easily, could have been us, any of us, and it was.
But I didn’t wish i was dead.