I live with a strange fixation on my mortality. Images of my death break through my waking moments, visceral, flashing like distant memories from a life previously lived.
While driving across the Bay Bridge I can see my car fishtailing in the rain, careening over the rail and plummeting into the depths below. I feel the water stabbing at my skin like a million shards of glass, feel it as it engulfs and squeezes all trace of oxygen from my lungs. I can see rescue workers pulling my body from the shores of the bay, see it thick and swollen from days immersed in salt water. I see them retrieving vestiges from the wreckage, see my journal streaked with blotches of ink that once formed words.
While walking home I can see myself being attacked from behind, feel a knife or a bullet dig deep into my abdomen. I see myself collapsed on the ground and clutching my open wound; I feel the blood hot and viscous through my fingers like wax. I hear myself struggling to cry for help, hear the words sputter, choke and spit from my throat. I watch my life paint the concrete in shades of crimson red.
In my apartment I see myself coming home to a stranger waiting for me in the darkness. I feel his weight bear down upon me, see his eyes behind the ski mask. I hear the pounding on the walls - the angry sound of my body forcefully thrown - I feel the bruises as they collect deep beneath my skin.
On the Muni I hear a loud crack and see the explosion from the outside. I see the mushroom cloud of smoke and flames, feel the split second of heat searing the skin off my bones until there is nothing left to feel. I see the 6 o'clock news reports, hear details of the attack. My name is one in a laundry list of names; our loved ones cry and express their grief to the press.
I can hear the eulogies at my funeral, see the tears that streak my loved ones’ faces. I hear them sharing anecdotes of our shared time together - the dinner checks we split, the glasses of wine we cheered, the distances of time we traveled together as acquaintances, friends, family. I see the procession march quietly to my final resting place, see the flowers delicately strewn across my coffin. I read my obituary in the paper - my life abbreviated into a 250-word side bar.
I live day-to-day with an acute awareness of my mortality; I feel the reality of it in every movement. Images of my death assault my daily thoughts in a manner comparable only to the violence of the death itself; they jolt me awake at night like a low and distant rumble, increasing in intensity as they burrow into my subconscious.
My death has a face; it presents itself to me in many ways.