[You are dreaming]
You have finally done it. You parked your car off the Palisades Interstate Parkway at one of the many scenic overlooks that line the long strip of asphalt. It is late at night and you hope you don't get caught [you won't this is your dream], so you pop the trunk and pull the duct tape and rubber garden hose out, the two things you need to end your miserable, soulless, sad, worthless life. You tape one end to the exhaust and the other to the driver side window. You make sure no air can get in or out. You want to win this time.
As the fumes enter your lungs, you cough and spit all over the passenger seat. You are dying. You are dying. You are dying [this is a dream]. The last thing you do is scribble "I Did All That I Co..." on the dashboard with a Sharpie marker. The last thing you see is the Hudson, glistening under the stars, moving back and forth ebbing and flowing the same way you did your whole life. Something beautiful and something tragic, you think to yourself, you have always been dramatic.
But you are dead now. And that's it. You don't conform to time or space and you're not really sure how you still have a consciousness but you are around. You are "living" the "afterlife". But there is no pearly gate and St. Peter isn't there to call your name. There's no reward or judgment. There just is. But to others. Your family. Your friends. There is nothing where something once was.
Weeks pass and you attend your own funeral. Your friends and family are all gathered there together, crying and sobbing. You don't have emotions anymore. You are energy. You are ethereal. You are a specter. You are a shadow.
You watch your mother shove her face into your father's shoulder. He doesn't cry. But she does and you want it to hurt you but it doesn't. You are energy. You are ethereal. You are a specter. You are a shadow [this is a dream].
Your best friends gather together for the first time in years. It only took your death to get everyone to hang out again, you think to yourself. You would laugh here. But you don't. You can't.
You listen to wise words, solemn, somber words. Your life and what could have been. How you were just about to make it big. That you were on the cusp of doing something great. You finally get to see what other people think of you. You feel nothing.
Years have passed. If you could feel, you would say it felt like second but you [are dreaming] don't feel anything anymore because that's what living people do. You are no longer alive. You are a shadow, a shade, a blip of energy endlessly wandering until something catches your "attention", you [are dreaming] don't have an "attention" to be "caught" anymore.
But you look at your tombstone, "Here Lies... I Did All That I Could". An old friend visits you every year on the anniversary of your death. They sit next to the grave with flowers and a cup of black coffee and a book. They read out loud, to you, the same way you used to read to them. They get through each line with tears in their eyes and they get angry,
"You didn't doallthat you could, you gave up. You gave up on me, on everyone. You promised me. You never break promises. But you had to do this, you had to..." It's the same every year. They cry, scream, and plead. They haven't gotten over it yet. They never will.
You watch your friend's sadness cascade over their body, their soul, their mind and you feel nothing. You are [dreaming] dead. You are energy. You are ethereal. You are a specter. You are a shadow.
[You wake up. Shaking and sweaty. You only slept for an hour. But it felt like years.]
You [are awake] decide to take a drive across town. You need to think. You need to process your dream and how you felt and why you still feel like ending your life. You call your best friend. You tell them about the dream.
He asks about your day. You tell him nothing bad happened but you went to bed hating yourself. You tell him about the voice in your head that convinces you that you're worthless. You tell him that it's a heartbreaking feeling, to be surrounded by people that love and care about you and how you can't tell them you want to die.
You tell them how your friends and co-workers notice that look on your face. The one you get when your mind starts racing the way it used to. You tell them that you can't get the thought out of your head, that you don't know how you'll make it through one night let alone one year. You tell him how you don't want to spend the rest of your life fighting and convincing yourself that you made a good decision by not ending it all that night.
He listens. He tells you it's a burden you don't deserve to bear. He says you're a good person. He tries. He tries. He tries. He cares.
And you feel the thick waves of sadness wash off your skin. No, you aren't happy. Not at all. Not even close [you are awake]. You start talking again. You tell him that you'll be okay, you apologize, and thank him. You thank him for caring. He tells you he'll always be there to help carry your cross.
You tell him that life doesn't feel like it's worth living right now. You tell him that you know it's going to be hard. But you understand that everyday is another day of fighting to get one foot in front of the other. You understand that you're in the trenches everyday and you are not alone, even though it feels like you are [awake].
You try to go back to bed but you are awake. You are awake. You are alive and you are awake and you want to stay this way. You take a deep breath and let your lungs fill with air. When you exhale, you completely empty your chest cavity, there is nothing inside of you (there probably won't be, for a while, metaphorically).
But you accept it. You take in the air. You take up your cross, your burden, and try your best to carry it instead of letting it collapse on top of you.