I had something of an existential crisis. I first had this thought before I was nine, but I cannot remember what age specifically. I was very likely six. I sat in bed, awake and thinking. Thinking about how my life would work. I kept naming things, kept coming up with ideas. And eventually I came across an idea that was more fact. I would die one day. I started to cry that night, and ran to my mothers room to tell her how scared I was. She told me that as Catholics we believe in heaven, so we never really die, we sort of just move on to somewhere new. I believed her at the time.
Every few years since that thought has crept into my mind some nights. Sometimes every night for weeks. I would get so terrified, so scared, that I had to promise myself I'd be alright. That even if I died in my sleep by some preposterous means it would be okay. That not existing wouldn't be as terrifyingly awful as I thought. It was the only way I'd sleep.
Two nights ago, it hit me. It hit me harder than the time I fell out of a tree and was winded so badly by the fall my parents almost called an ambulance. It was worse than the time I overexerted myself at a track practice and had a physical attack of some kind. And I've not lost all my faith, but I have no evidence to an afterlife. Only hope. Desperate blind hope. I've learned that I just cannot follow mindlessly, and that is why I cannot partake in organized religion. I have to figure out for myself how to deal with god and such things. And with death.. There is only one way to find out, and I am by far not ready.
I was scared. I cried. I've had dreams wherein I've died, many, many such dreams, but there is one that I have remembered for a long time.
I have told few people this dream. In it, I am living with my same family, but in a near distant future setting. We live in the highest house in a structural setting. It's like those penthouses, but every house is that way. I have the same friends, at the time those were numbered at two. I will use their nicknames just for the hell of it. Both female, Courage and Peace.
In our house, all is well when the dream starts. We get a phone call, mom answers. Nothing seems wrong. But when she hangs up, she calls everyone over. She explains to us how hospitals, in the past thirty years, would grow clones to ensure the health of damaged children, as donors and such. I am one such clone, she says, living the life of the original while she grows strong in the hospital. A stand in. And the original has now become physically well enough to live a real life. (this doesn't make much sense, I know) She's coming home, she says. I thought it would be like having a sister, and an older one at that. But it is explained to me that I am the legal property of my genetic first copy. If she's anything like I am, she'll consider me a sister.
I am wrong. She is nothing like me. She is all I wish to never be. Selfish, rude, overtly feminine, and a downright bitch. The room I'd spent eighteen years decorating is torn apart. She forbids me to leave the house, from contacting my friends, destroys all that I have developed in my lifetime because it is now her lifetime. This goes on for weeks. I am her slave. Until she decides I'm in the way, a reminder of her sickness. She wants me gone. Eradicated. Literally.
Legally, no one can stop her or deny her. My friends try. Courage goes the route of campaigning and then later resorting to physical violence, neither of which options work. Peace tries to work her way through a court to purchase my freedom, but laws are clear: it's neither of their's business. So a date is set, and I am at the least granted time to make ends and enjoy what I can.
My last day arrives, and I decide I want to go fishing. The whole family, except for bitch-me, goes with me. It's morbid and sad and I can tell they don't want to be here. Dylan, my younger brother, slips. He cuts open his whole shin, bleeding insanely quickly. Of course we rush him to a nearby hospital.
There, he's seen to immediately, but I don't get the chance to see what happens, because the automated hospital recognizes that I'm slated for a procedure, and, via electronic arms, takes me away for such. This is where things get less than realistic.
I am taken through dark tunnels in the walls of the building, until we reach a room that is dark, large, and has a long glass tube in the middle. I am shoved into the tube, and start pounding on the enclosure. I don't know what it is that I'm in, but I know it's meant to kill me. I'm so scared. I can't break free, obviously. I'm just a little girl. I experience this next part outside of my 'body' and witness it instead as though a third person viewer. Two lights, one from each end of the tunnel, intercept me. They fade, and for a second, I'm still there. But then I fall apart into dust, and I'm gone.
But I don't wake up.
The dream keeps going.
And I observe the whole thing without being truly conscious anymore. I couldn't move, couldn't think on my own, I was mindless but somehow still fucking present. It was terrifying, but I couldn't even feel scared. I couldn't feel anything.
But I kept seeing things. Only when I woke up could I even begin to process it. The dream degraded into a fantasy setting, moreso than before. My, ah, imaginary friend at the time, was there as my guardian angel, and attempted to save me from my destruction but failed. The rest of the dream shows him gaining retribution. When I woke up, the first thing I cared about was that literally no one mourned for me but a figment of my imagination. My friends tried to save me, sure, but when all was lost they chose to abandon ship and let me die alone. My family sat back and let the version of me they'd actually raised be destroyed by a cheap alter ego. Anything I'd ever accomplished was purposefully erased from the world. That terrified me at the time.
But what terrifies me now, though, is that I know something of what it feels like to not exist. And it's horrible.
And if that's what waits us after death, then I am more afraid of dying than ever. I don't know how I could face it. I try to calm myself down by telling myself that even if oblivion is what's waiting, then I'd never know. I'd just be gone again, and it'd be like I never happened from my own point of view. If that makes any sense.
But what I can't get out of my head is what if that's me tomorrow?
What if all that I want to do is just GONE because I'm gone?
It's like I'm a disc, a cd. One for storing pictures and movies. I'm currently a disc with lots of those things. But tomorrow, if whomever put those things onto my disc decides they no longer want that stuff and they remove all that, wipe the disc clean, then it's as if it never was.
To hell that the person will remember there was stuff on the disc. The disc, me, is no longer aware of having that stuff. It's gone. I'm gone. It doesn't matter to me anymore that the world remembers me, because I"M NOT THERE TO CARE.
And sure, if I don't care, I still don't care that I'm gone because I'll never have known that I existed in the first place.
But I don't want to be gone. I want to be able to know that people do or don't remember me. I want to be able to care that I've died. I want to be sentient and aware of myself. I don't want to just not be. This terrifies me beyond belief. Because it could happen at anytime, and that'll be it.
This is my one chance at anything as far as I can humanly tell. If it ends tomorrow, or tonight, I don't want to be gone. I so desperately wish I had some form of assurance that that wouldn't be the end of me. If I knew with any amount of certainty that there was something of a life after this, I could face every day and every night a lot less afraid to die, because I would know that the important thing about me, my sentience, my awareness, my soul, if you will, would not be dead. But there's nothing out there to tell me with any certainty, even the slimmest convincing argument, that even sets my mind at ease.
So I cried myself to sleep that night, scared and alone.