I died once. In the fading light of a summer’s end nine years ago; I died. I want to tell you about it.
It is hard for me, for it is very personal. But I died once, and you should know that when you die there is, nothing.
For an eternity in a moment there was nothing. I didn’t know where I was, when I was, if I was; there was nothing and it lingered.
I died on a beach. I was crying. I had never cried so much or for so long and I have never cried since. When you lose everything you ever cared about and there is nothing left for you, you cry. Nothing has compared since, to be worth a single tear,
The waves fell on the shore and rattled the pebbles. It was a grey beach. Not a sandy shoreline with impressions of other people’s footprints, but hard and stoney, a beach of stones and I sat on them awhile, crying. I felt that the salty droplets of my tears fell to those stones and when the waves washed ashore the sea would be greater for the water I had added to it.
The had loved the sea. I had grown up on it. In summer days I’d played on it and walked many miles of my coastline. This was not my beach. It was still the sea that I knew, but not my beach. It was hard, and stoney; unforgiving.
There is no memory of the walk to that beach. Only that I was there. I had been at my mother’s, then I was at the beach, on the stones. I was there because it made sense to be there. I needed space to think, and the great expanse of ocean before me, undisturbed by boat, by beach comber or dog walker, was space aplenty and in that place I cried and wailed louder than the crash of the waves and the persistent cry of the gulls.
I did not think on the beach. For though there was space around me on the unforgiving shore, there was no space in my mind. I cried and in my mind there was a scream, long, unwavering, of a deafening pitch, that smothered any thought in a blanket of white noise.
My body lumbered on the stones. I sat, and crawled and tried to stand but my legs would not support me. Slowly I inched toward the wet kissing of the waves on the stones. As I floundered I would grasp at the pebbles and fling them to the water, defiant and hateful at the world, at what I knew would be the final destination of my pitiful story of a life. But still I edged forward, claw by claw to the water’s edge.
It is hard to drown. Your body flees to the air and even the worst swimmers find that treading water comes far more naturally than they would have surmised. You have to keep moving forward, not swimming but moving, crawling, walking when it gets too deep, forward into the swell, and you must give up; release to the sea you will and when you breath water and not air it hurts. You choke. So you gasp for another breath, more pain and by the third you see black; the light fades to nothingness.