0 as in nothing

Non-existent. Not present.

Zero. What more is there to say, but, my countdown is finally over. I needn’t count down anymore.

Zero. Is it possible to count any lower? Isn’t that usually where it ends, or was that supposed to be one?

Zero, that is after the white light. The life after that? Or is it the moment that my soul leaves my body and I…die?

Zero. From there I can only count backwards. This time it does not have an end.

Negative one. Negative two. Negative three.

What if we remove the negative and just count the numbers? We are counting upwards again.

That happened to me. I did not disappear after zero. Just when I thought I would be counting in the negatives, I start counting the positives again.

The white light? That’s the bright-ass ceiling light. It’s the first thing that I saw when I woke up again.

The doctor told me that something miraculous happened. I woke up.

I was dead. I had died. But just as I was letting go, I held on to the one thing that I knew I couldn’t lose.

Life.

 

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1 as in the number of times I went into shock

I was fine. I was telling my mother how beautiful her dress was. I was looking at her hands, with chipped nail polish on her nails. She had been rejecting her looks. She always believed that no matter what, looking good should at least be second priority. I guess, when you had a dying son, that did not apply.

She was forcing a smile, while my dad was outside, crying. How ironic. He was the one who used to tell me that men should be strong for their wives. I would have scoffed if I had the energy. I would have asked what other lies my dad had told me before. But I didn’t, because I was clinging to whatever hope I had of going to heaven.

After I had accepted death, I also accepted the possibilities of heaven and hell. I had to cling on to something. I had to at least have some kind of hope about the afterlife.

I had been asleep for a while and when I opened my eyes I saw my mother, with her head bowed, praying. She was holding on to dad’s hand and he was holding on to my girlfriend’s. One of mom’s hand was on my stomach and I held it.

But then the world seemed to go black. Before that I heard the machine start to loudly beep and I could faintly hear the voices of everyone panicking.

I couldn’t feel anymore. I could only see darkness… No. White. It was white that I was seeing.

 

2 as in the number of days I was in pain before it became unbearable

I was, obviously, rushed to the hospital. Even after I had told my girlfriend that I would be dying anyways. I had slowly slipped into depression and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

My pain-filled couple of days led me to go sooner than everyone had expected.

It probably hurt more for me, because I wanted to do one last thing before the day came.

What a pity that I remembered that on the way to hospital in the ambulance. I needed one because I could not even get out of bed due to the severe pain. I scared my girlfriend. She was most likely traumatised.

She also started crying a lot and eating more ever since I told her the news. Luckily, she wasn’t getting fat.

She was not ruining her chances of finding love again after I had left.

I don’t remember much about the trip. I was too busy being drugged to remember much. I remember waking up to my mother’s tear-stained face.

I believed that I truly was dying. My parents’ hope filled calls were all just a way for them to deal with the situation. They just wanted to reassure themselves that what I said was not true. They did not want me dead.

Well, I was sorry that I would be dying

3 as in the hundreds of times that I had told them I was okay

It is not exactly, but approximately. Every day, my parents called. They wanted to see how I was doing, if I had seen the light yet, or if I had eaten. They seemed to believe that some miracle would happen and I would survive and get married and have kids.

My girlfriend wanted to get angry at me for not telling her sooner. She seemed to have thought that she could have helped me in a way. Like her knowing would have helped me add some more years to my life.

I knew the truth. The doctor even showed me my brain and pointed at where the problem was. A few more weeks before I would be dying.

I was starting to think about death a lot. How it would feel like. If it would truly be better than being alive.

Knowing that I left everyone in pain, would I even enjoy myself? I mean, if I would not be going to hell.

Heaven. Hell. Did that even exist?

4 as in the number of people in the room when the news came out

It was not as dramatic as it sounds. I made it sound like we were watching a soapie when all of a sudden our phones beeped with the latest trending news. Which, in the current situation, was my impending death.

I had invited my parents over to dinner and asked my girlfriend to cook the meal that my parents liked so much. She easily agreed, seeing that some previous nights before I was crying like a five year old who had lost his teddy. She also probably sensed that it was important to me.

I started it nicely, trying to make the impact as subtle as ever.

We all know that someday we will die. It is inevitable. I mean, grandma is dead, the two dogs are dead, grandpa also. It’s just not something that we cannot prevent from happening.

By then, I had three confused faces staring at me, trying to understand what I was saying.

Most people will live a long life before that time comes. Some other’s will have their lives cut short. Like me.

And then the tears started. Questions about what was wrong, about when it started, about if I was sure. No one believed me until I told them exactly what the doctor had told me.

I just exchanged the ten months with two.

It had taken me eight months to tell them. What a despicable person I was.

5 as in the hour that my girlfriend woke up to find me crying

There were approximately four months before I finally kicked the bucket. When I finally let my phone ring till the end, I just told my parents that I loved them. I did not tell them that I would be dying and burdening them once again.

I was staying in the same house as someone and I couldn’t even tell them what was happening. I was too scared to hurt her. I was too scared to hurt my parents too.

I sometimes dreamt of a time after my death. How much happier everyone would be without me. Who wouldn’t be happy? I mean, the nuisance would be finally gone.

I woke up that night and decided to go get a glass of water. Instead, I ended up on the kitchen floor, crying a dam. Because rivers are too cliché.

I did not know that it was 5am until my girlfriend walked in confused, saying that it was 5 in the morning. She never finished her sentence because when she saw the mess that was me, she stopped.

She hugged me and told me that everything would be okay after I struggled to tell her the truth.

6 as in the number of times I hung up before I let the phone ring all the way

I wanted to tell my parents. I wanted them to know that they would be outliving their son. I wanted to congratulate them for staying so healthy and not getting strange diseases that did not cut their lives short unexpectedly.

I wanted them to know that I was sorry for being a bad child. For smoking and drinking. Stealing, bullying other kids. Gosh, I had been a bother before I was faced with death.

I wanted to apologise for inconveniencing them because they would be paying for my funeral seeing that I still did not have life cover. Another thing that my girlfriend needed to scold me about. Not getting life cover.

But does anyone ever think that they would be dying before they are thirty?

I mean, there were people who died much younger. So maybe I complained a lot. Maybe I was just ungrateful. I had lived a longer life than some people could say.

A quarter of a century. Wow. I had lived for such a long time…