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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A Strange Sensation

By Johna Ferguson

I think I’m going to die. I really don’t know what brought on this sudden idea, for I am in bed and have been sleeping peacefully until the urge to go to the bathroom woke me.

After I returned to bed, I lay looking up at the ceiling and realized it was covered with fluffy, white clouds that occasionally parted, but I couldn’t see anything beyond them for I felt a soft, silky veil was covering my face and it blurred my vision.

I’m too young to die. I am a healthy 80-year-old woman, so I shouldn’t have such ominous thoughts. But tonight I have this very vague feeling that my body is somewhere else but I don’t know where it is.

I don’t feel my heart racing or beating irregularly. I can move, but I guess I feel a little like the astronauts in space, a certain weightlessness yet I am aware of the mattress below me and my quilt wrapped body.

Why I have this sensation, I have no idea. We just returned from China, a long flight so maybe part of me forgot to get off at the Tokyo airport and is still floating around somewhere in the clouds.

But to think I might be dying puts another dimension into it all. I know that some people have died and come back say it was a glorious feeling, but I don’t feel that. It’s just like a part of me is gone forever but which part I can’t distinguish.

I can move my toes and fingers so all of my body seems intact. I guess it’s just my mind that has the problem, yet it really doesn’t seem to be any problem at all. It’s such a comfortable condition, a little like being suspended in cotton candy; soft, sweet, filled with muted colors.

I feel loved and with many purposes still ahead of me, so what’s the problem? Then it came to me suddenly that maybe I am dreaming. But no. I can see out the corner of my right eye the slats of the blinds on our bedroom windows. Out of the corner of the other eye I can see my husband, wrapped like a cocoon in his quilt, sleeping.

Since I can’t seem to get out of this fog, I decide I’d better try to get back to sleep and maybe if I wake up all will have returned to normal. But how to get back to sleep? I’m not a computer on which you just push a button to put it into sleep mode. Repeating a mantra sometimes works if one is really tired, yet I feel completely rested.

I try to imagine what birds do for sleep. I don’t know if they close their eyes part of the time when on one of their long flights over the ocean, or if they just go without sleep for many days. I decide that if I am in fact dying, or at least a part of me is, I should make some plans.

I know my spot in life will immediately be filled with another life somewhere in the world. That new life will breathe the oxygen I used to fill my lungs with, take up the same amount of space I did, and use the same resources my body did. That new life will eat and drink, hopefully be loved by someone, be educated in some way, and work to survive whatever obstacles appear. War, famine, discrimination, lack of resources or money will extract their toll, but hopefully that new life will, as it ends, feel that he or she has added something to mankind.

As living entities we are born onto a planet filled with only so much air, water, minerals and ground. If the population keeps increasing, there will be major shortages of these and probably the person who takes my place will face difficult decisions regarding which is most important.

My generation just used and used and never thought much about future generations; the world one faces in the future will be different as resources diminish.

But I want to live longer, see if our generation can change our selfish ways and learn how to conserve. With all these thoughts swirling in my head, I fall asleep. No, I didn’t die. Who knows what those feelings were or what brought them on. I slept deeply and awoke with a new outlook.

We all have a chance to try to change the world a little. If everyone thought about the people who will inhabit our spaces; who will breathe the air which is now polluted due to our greed to build bigger and better whatever; drink the water, which due to global warming may be in shorter and shorter supply and also filled with dangerous chemicals and waste; raise crops on tired, over-fertilized soil; then I think we all can make a small difference.

Hopefully you will try. We elders should set the example for another person, and on and on it will go. So before you die, please try to make a small dent in the problems the world now faces. The challenges are there; it’s up to us to confront them head on.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Wow Johnna, what a beautiful piece. It certainly has me thinking.

Excellent read. I agree with you completely. And that kind of self awareness is the first step.


You really made me think of things and one of those things is a quote by Erma Bombeck who wrote something I will never forget.

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used up everything you gave me".

Sometimes the greatest insights come to us in the quiet of the middle of the night. Your experience and ultimate thoughts on it led to writing a very inspirational and meaningful post. Thank you for sharing and inspiring.

I really needed this quiet, strong affirmation after reading the depressing news Ronni posted this a.m.

It was a wonderful, thought-provoking post. Thank you, Johna, for sharing your musings with us

Ditto on Erma Bombeck option..Mary Follett

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