If I Die Before I Wake
By: Nicole Lopez
"I'm dying." Those are the words that no parent wants to hear from their child. But I could feel it happening, life slipping away from me and I was powerless to stop it. I mean what do you do when the end is near? I always thought that I'd have time, you know to fuck around a little bit, to make mistakes, to be uncommitted and free of moral obligations.
I guess that's why I spent so much of my life going from place to place guy to guy trying to figure it out. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed it. I've had every sexual encounter you can imagine, have seen the best and worst of Europe, Latin America, Asia, and I have partied the entire time.
It all seems so relative now. When I look back on my life what am I going to see? What is everyone else going to see?
I wish that I had taken it more seriously. Here I am 32 years old and I have done nothing in this life, in this world. When I am finally and truly dead and gone, who will be here to remember me? Who will be here to care? Up until now I didn't give a shit.
Because I thought I had time. Time. Time … what is time?
I can just imagine what everyone is going to say about me, especially my exes. Why couldn't it be one of them instead? Other people I know have done so much with, starting their own businesses, joining the Peace Corps, getting married, devoting their lives to children, to God. They got it. And I didn't.
And now I didn't have time to get right. I waited too long…
But is it really fair to trade a life for a life? My parents would say so. Both of them would take my place by sacrificing themselves. But that's not really the way life goes. It sort of a game that everyone is forced to play. You don't get to pick your cards, or decide when your turn starts, when it ends, but you make the moves.
"You don't know that honey." Mom replied to my earlier statement with tears in her eyes. "There's still time."
"No there isn't." I answered back, accepting it as it was. It was a miracle that I was still here. Four months ago they said I was dying and I told them to piss off. Now, I could feel it. I finally believed it.
"No one says that you have to do this. You don't. You mean the world to us and we wouldn't hold it against you." Graham added, trying to comfort me and sway my decision, but I was more sure of this than anything else.
"No. I have to do this." I answered. "I have to think of someone else for a change."
"Is that really what you doing, or are you trying to make up for a lifetime of reckless selfishness?" Dad wondered. I didn't bother responding. His mind was made up, as was mine.
"Before I... Is there anyone waiting …to see me? Tell them to come in." I demanded thinking about the massive number of people that I had fostered a relationship with. My parents exchanged glances before replying, 'only one.'
My heart nearly gave out then and there. I would like to think that the world would not even stop, but pause for a moment to give a brief, yet reflective and sort of happy thought of me. And with all the people that I know, I just thought…
"Bring him in." I knew that it was Brian Krakow before he even came in.
"I don't want to you." He begged, kneeling beside the bed and holding my hand gently. "Maybe there is a way to save you all." Brian suggested, kissing me lovingly as he had done so many times before.
I didn't really pay attention to it before. I just took it, and used him, and let him go, but maybe Brian really did love me which meant that I was an even worse person than I thought.
"Don't make this harder… please."
"Then, promise me this … If if you are given a second chance would you say yes?" He inquired, referring to a lifetime of requests for my hand in marriage.
"No. You know who my heart belongs to and... Even though he is not here, I will keep waiting for him. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I will think of him," I replied, referring to my endless, yet futile love for a guy who wouldn't ever give me what I wanted from him. He had been the one thing that went tragically right in my life, the one thing that I prayed for.
"I know that this sounds awful but… You've done this before, you've had abortions, many of them … why now? Why have a baby now? Why this baby? Why … let them cut your body up and give the parts to..." Brian couldn't even finish his sentence.
"Because it's his… and I was hoping that he'd come back for her."
"But you got me instead." Brian smiled at me morosely, reaching to kiss me again and I let him. If it provided solace to him, I let him do it even though I felt nothing from it.
"I'm sorry that I couldn't love you that I couldn't …" I tried to catch my breath, but I couldn't. There were so many things that I wanted to say to him, to my now deceased, drug addicted Rayanne, to Ricky to … Sharon with her perfect life to … everyone. I wanted to scream, 'It's not my time! Not me! Not yet!" but all the wind was knocked out of me.
I heard a loud beep and then it began, my final destination, my final mission.
"Ang, Angela!" I heard a heartrending scream in the midst of the other loud sounds of panic and pain. I wanted to hold on to see who it was, to open my eyes. I wanted to know if it was Brian or if Jordan had finally ….
I know I have to right to do this, to write in her journal like this, but someone has to know, people have to know what a good person Angela was. I have always loved her and what she did, it was the most beautiful thing ever.
She made me a father even though I thought it'd never be possible. She signed her daughter over to me and gave every part of herself, to right every wrong. Now someone else has a life, has a heart, a kidney, a lung, a brain… because of what she did—
"Daddy, someone's at the door." Little Angela said as I lay the diary down and tucked it back into its hidden spot. I probably shouldn't have touched it anyway since it was starting to fall apart.
Walking to the door, I tried to bring myself back to the present and stop thinking about her. I kept looking for her in all these places to see--
"Dude." Jordan spoke, looking down at Angela as soon as I opened the door. "Wow, she looks just like--"
"Come in." I opened the door and watched the two interact. Once again, we both had to share Angela, a part of Angela that we both loved so much.