Thoughts weave amongst my mind, as I drift in and out of sleep.
'You remember me, don't you?'
'Mummy, why is she not answering me?'
'Doctor, please tell me what I can do.'
I wake up sweating, my hands shaking. My whole body feels alive, vibrating, pouring with pain and anxiety and hurt and everything else that comes with that. Voices escape my mouth I've never heard of, my heart rising and soaring and rising and...
My eyes bolt open to the corridor. I'm here again - the place I've been every night since two weeks ago. It's getting worse. As time goes on I'm leaving my body more, my memories dying, and I can't control anything I do anymore. I attempt to speak and what leaves my mouth is always different.
It’s impossible - like it's impossible for me to remember everything; to take all this back; to act like I'm okay when I'm dying and dying and dying inside. It's not okay. I never wanted to admit it but now I do. And I can't. Perhaps I'm crazy. Perhaps I'm freaking mad. But I guess that's what they all say when they know they're going to leave this world.
Slipping open the bedroom door, I stare at my breathing body again. It's what I do until I feel myself being sucked into the black hole again, with no way out. Now, I feel nothing. Everything’s at peace. But not when I’m the ‘real’ me.
So I wait, expecting the pain to again consume me until I'm wrapped up in a body I don't belong in. But it doesn’t happen. Soon, I'm curled up on the carpet, asleep.
When I wake up I notice the nurses first. Then I realise where I am - the floor. Getting to my feet immediately, I peer over the shoulder of one of the nurses who’s huddled around my bed, expecting it empty.
But someone’s there.
Looking from nurse to nurse I feel fear course through me. I watch as one pushes a stethoscope across their chest – my chest. It can't be. No. I'm still here. It's impossible.
But when the nurse gives a meaningful glance at the doctor, I know it's true. That's it. I'm gone, even though I'm still here. I'm dead, even though I'm standing before my corpse.
And whilst I stand before it and tears prick my eyes and I'm begging to be noticed, I wonder if this is what I wanted. I'm a ghost. I feel alive, even though I'm dead, but isn't that okay? Because the pain's been eliminated and I'm left soul-less, but more free than ever before.
Then it hits me: my daughter, her boys. As if by magic, they appear at the doorway a moment later.
I don't want to look. Hiding my eyes I will myself to not be so stupid. I've done my part. I've felt my pain. Why am I begging for more when it's the one thing I've always wanted to eliminate forever?
But I have to. Breaking my hands away I gaze at them. Lily's hands are shaking, her eyes blotched red. Tear after tear streams down her face as she looks at her Mother.
It's all me.
The nurses leave the room, leaving Lily and the two boys to sit before me. Ben's head is in Charlie's lap and I hear faint sobbing. I did this to them.
It's all me.
And I can't take it. Sitting here watching them grieve is heart-breaking, like you want to help and scream your name but you can't. You're helpless.
But I can try.
Climbing to my feet I walk around to the far side of the bed, so I can see their faces shimmering with newly-born tears.
"I'm here, darling, I'm here. I'm standing right before you and I'm alive and I know you can't see me but I'm here, okay?" My voice comes in short, sharp gasps.
"It's okay that I'm gone. Don’t grieve me. Please. I'm free from all the pain and all the hurt and I’m okay now.”
My hands shake violently, my body heaving. I can do this. I must do this.
"I love you so much," I choke, "I just…”
I step upon the bed and lean over my dead body, my face before Lily's. I cup her cheek, though I'm sure she doesn't feel a thing. She looks me right in the eye though, and for a second I think she sees something - sees me - but I'm certain it's just my imagination.
"See me. Please, see me." I beg.
And I know I'm digging myself into the pain but I can't help it. Just one more moment. Please. I want one more moment with my own daughter.
"I'm here!" I scream, tears fierce upon my firing cheeks. "I'm here! Please! I'm right in front of you and I love you and I…just please see me."
I fall to a heap on the floor. It was never going to happen. She was never going to see. And I feel myself burning with it all. Everything. But it’s when my eyes are closing and my body’s draining all the pain that I hear the last words I ever hear from my daughter.
"I see you."
And it's enough for me to curl into myself and will myself away because I made it through all the pain – it’s eliminated. So as she rushes over to me after the shock has sunk in, begging for more words, pleading for my life, I don’t say a thing.
Because I'm gone now.