There was blood in the toilet accompanied by a significant pain in my belly. It wasn’t the first time the blood had been there but it was the first time the pain was severe enough to concern me.
I cleaned myself up and wandered to the couch.
For a few moments I struggled to find a position that was comfortable and wondered if this was something to be genuinely worried. Â I propped my head up with a pillow and closed my eyes and slowed my breathing down.
And then I wondered about whether it was time to call the doctor or not.
Years of GI distress had made it harder to discern when to be concerned about it being serious and when it was just one of those days.
I tried to figure out what I had eaten. Dairy could do me in and so could a number of other things, like spinach or sesame seeds. Maybe I had eaten something, one of those things. Maybe it was nothing more than the joy of a dysfunctional digestive system.
But I couldn’t think of anything.
Dysfunctional or not the overall status of my digestive system seemed to have improved. There were occasional problems but I could almost always attribute it to food or stress.
What Happens If Something Is Really Wrong With Me?
This time was different in more than a few ways. This time was different because it was the first time I wondered if maybe there was a terminal illness attached to this. I had never considered that before. It was always just an irritation, a thing that sometimes made me change or adjust plans, but never life threatening.
Can’t say for certain what made me start thinking about this but I did. I remembered a story someone I knew had told me about his bout with Colon Cancer. I remembered bits and pieces, just enough for my mind to make the leap to maybe this is similar.
Enough for me to start wondering what happens if I have something serious and I need to really fight to live. What happens if I have to prepare to say goodbye.
What do I do then.
How Do I Want To Live and How Do I Want To Die?
Nature called and I ran back to the bathroom. I didn’t have to look, I knew that there was going to be some blood again. I knew and I remembered hearing that Elvis died on the toilet.
That was something I really didn’t want. Not because of a lack of dignity but because I didn’t want people to remember me that way. I didn’t want the last thing my family saw to be the dead man on the toilet, assuming I didn’t fall off.
Time passed and I staggered to the bedroom and flopped on the bed.
The question of what I wanted to do kept tugging at me.
I didn’t know if I was seriously ill and I did my best not to jump to conclusions. But the truth was I was still in a lot of pain and couldn’t remember it ever feeling like that.
And that is when I started thinking about how I wanted to live. I had always said that when I die I want to die knowing I had done all that I could to live a life of joy and happiness.
I wanted to go knowing that I had made a difference and that I had helped make the world a better place.
But I wanted to make sure I had done some other things, experienced things I hadn’t ever done before. I decided that it would be ok to be selfish and selfless.
I try not to live a life of “what if” this and “what if that.”
But I am a writer with a graphic imagination and I see/hear stories wherever I go.
And it was hard not to look back and think of friends who have died. There have been enough to make me wonder about how it all works. Â I helped shovel dirt onto their caskets and was a mourner and witness to other mourners.
What if things were cut short. Would I have done enough. Would I have lived enough.
The story/movie of my children’s lives will end after I am gone. I won’t be there to see it all. That is normal. That is natural.
But what about the others? What about those who mean most to me outside of family?
Will I have made it clear to them how important they are? Will they know how much I loved and appreciated them or will these things merely be things a man once thought about and never shared.
Sometimes you think about these questions on your own and sometimes you forget only to be reminded later on.