If this is how it ends, I thought to myself as my heart thumped harder and faster inside my chest.
If this is where it ends, then let's go. I'm ready.
We drove to Connecticut on Saturday morning. Made our usual stop at Dunkin' Donuts - a box of Munchkins for the ride, an egg wrap for each of us, and an iced coffee for me.
By the time we got to Mom's, my knees ached. It happens. I'm out of shape. When my legs ache, my body weakens. I get tired. Sometimes I nap. But I wanted to visit with the family. I didn't want to nap.
Mom always keeps a few Rockstars in the fridge. Not my favorite energy drink but they'll do. I cracked one open. We talked. I told Mom my knees hurt. She gave me a pill. I took it.
My knees stopped aching.
My sister heard of an Autumn festival she thought we'd enjoy called "Pumpkins on the Pier." We followed her there. It was extremely crowded. There was nowhere to park.
We went to another place. A small farm I've passed a thousand times. We picked pumpkins.
I started to feel dizzy. Is it the sun? Have I eaten enough?
When we got back home I told my family I felt dizzy. By then my heart was beating, hard and fast. Like the first time I drank an energy drink - before my 'must-pass' Algebra final.
D surmised it was the Rockstar - or the painkiller my mom gave me. Or both. She remembered I had an iced coffee (Mom didn't know that) and then a Rockstar. And then a pain pill - which turned out to be Tramadol.
Mom felt terrible - she had given my nephews the same pills when they had body aches, but not with that much caffeine. The more they talked about it, the more my heart raced.
I went upstairs to lie down. It's okay, I thought. I'll sleep it off.
I woke up an hour or two later. Felt fine for a moment.. then my heartbeat quickened again.
Something's wrong. It's not going away.
I skipped dinner. Had to go to bed again. Had to sleep this off.
D looked up the side effects on her phone. I began to wonder - could I die from this?
As I tried to calm myself for my second nap I realized that I was in my childhood home, in my first bedroom, surrounded by the only people who love me.
I thought of how insignificant and frustrating my life has been. I'm closing in on 40 years old, still working part-time with no benefits. Still unable to find a job that sufficiently supports my family. Still unable to convince them to clean up their mess downstairs.
I thought of the mass shooting epidemic, the severity of natural disasters, the lack of empathy humans (especially Americans) have for each other, and the fact that our leaders are unable or unwilling to change any of this.
I thought of all that I have to look forward to - my mother's death, my aunt's death, my personal information being stolen by some hacker, my mother-in-law's death, diabetes, dental surgery, prostate exams, someone I know being killed in a terrorist attack and/or mass shooting, my daughters being bullied either on social media or in real life (probably both), my sister's death, my wife's death, and so on.
I thought of the things I was unable to do last weekend alone - couldn't go see Taryn Southern or John Green, or go on a lighthouse tour for Mom's birthday. Couldn't even go to a stinkin' sports card store. What good is living if you can't do things that bring you joy?
I thought of all of that... and then as my heart thumped harder and faster inside my chest, I thought If this is how it ends, If this is where it ends, then let's go. I'm ready.
I fell asleep.
I woke up.
One more thing I couldn't do.