I found out yesterday that someone I knew in high school has passed away. It was sudden. It came out of nowhere. A positively healthy man just beginning to enter his 30s and establish everything that he wanted his life to be was taken forever from our world. A faulty artery in his heart is the culprit. Completely undetected, unnoticed. Until it was too late. Times like this make me ponder my own mortality. Which is almost a different mindset for me. Previously it has always been wishes that I would not wake up. Dreams that a sudden accident would take place and I would no longer have to fight for my pathetic excuse of a life to stay together. The scars on my arm that are still raised and burn when I touch them are proof that I have never wanted to be immortal. I wanted proof that I was mortal. That I could exist outside of this place. But now, I find myself scared that I do not have enough time to do everything that I want to do. I was given this second chance for a reason.
I don’t know if I have written about this scene before (and I’m too lazy to read back through my posts), but something very special happened on that night when I was at San Francisco General Hospital. The night that I sliced through my arm, clear down to the bone. The hospital was so overcrowded that night that the majority of us that were in the “Emergency Room” area were on beds in the hallway. They did not have enough rooms to fit everyone. Normally I would have been having a major panic attack, I hate (HATE!) hospitals and fear going to them. So the thought of just lying in a hallway for hours on end with no one with me to hold my hand would have left me terrified. But no. I just laid there. Passing between consciousness and sleep. That tells you how deep my body was into shock. But anyway. There was a young guy on his own gurney diagonal from me. I could not see anything physically wrong with him, in the sense that there was no blood or anything, but he had on a huge neck brace that extended to his chest so he could not look around or anything. There was a woman standing by the side of his bed, just waiting. The nurse came to roll me into a room so that she could stitch me up. I should mention that at the time, my arms were bandaged and underneath my blanket. So anyone from the outside could not see what was wrong with me or what I was there for. So as the nurse was rolling me down the hall, I passed the guy. Right as I was passing him, he looked me straight into the eye and said, “Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. It’s not worth it.” The candor that he expressed suprised me. I did not know what to say. I looked up to the woman that was standing next to his bed and she just glanced from him to me and back again with a puzzled look on her face. Like she was on the same level as me and had no idea why he would say such a thing or what was going on. We continued down the hall and, in my head, I was trying to figure out what the guy had meant by what he said. Or maybe it wasn’t even meant for me. Maybe he was caught in some other place in his mind due to whatever incident had brought him to the hospital and so his words were not meant for me at all. At that moment we were about to turn a corner into another hallway. The nurse paused for some unknown reason, and so I glanced back down the hallway. The young man with the brace that stopped him from all movement, had rotated so that he was now facing in my direction and he was sitting up in his bed. He was facing me, and only me, and looking at me. He said, “You know what I am talking about. Don’t do this. It’s not worth it. You are worth more. You know what I am talking about. Please.” I was stunned. Disbelief would be an understatement. No words came to my mind, but I looked at his face and nodded. It was the only thing my brain could process to do. He smiled at me and nodded back, as much as he could, and then laid back down onto his bed. The nurse and I continued on our way, but under her breath I could hear the nurse say “Holy shit”. My thoughts exactly.
I do not know where that guy came from. Why he was there. What he had been through. Or even his name. I never saw him before that night and have never seen him since. But, without a doubt, I know that his words were meant for me. I do not know where they came from. But I believe that I was meant to hear them. I was meant to know that my life was worth more than what I had done to myself just hours before. I am not narcissitic or self-absorbed enough to think that I am meant for true greatness in this world. I do not think that I am going to change the world or cure a disease. I will never have any global impact during my time here on this earth. But I do think that I am meant to be here for a reason. That someone, somewhere, was trying to tell me through that stranger’s voice that I am meant to be here. I have no idea for the reason why at this point. And I may never know. But there is a reason. And that thought alone fills me with hope. I am mortal. But I also have a purpose, as does everyone else. The man that I knew in high school had a purpose as well. The friend that I knew who succumbed to cancer last spring had a purpose too. As did my friend who died a couple months ago during a freak accident. Their purpose was fulfilled. Their impact was felt and noticed. For me, I still have work to do. And it scares me to think that I may be running out of time. I hope one day I can know that my presence in this life was felt. That in some way, my impact mattered. That guy in the hospital, his message, wherever it might have come from, was meant for me. And I just hope that I can live up to his voice.