I'm Gone Now
Myrna G. Johnston
Twenty minutes later they stopped sticking needles into my body and pushing on my chest. The doctor called clear, put the paddles to my ribs and my body jumped one last time. They all looked at the flat line on the screen. "Time of death 4:20PM." the doctor intoned.
How do I know all this? Some part of me has been sitting on the rim of this light over the emergency room gurney since the wall clock read four o'clock. I came up here about two minutes after they moved me from the paramedics gurney to this hospital one. "One, two, three lift." said the doctor. I knew they could do nothing to bring me back. I really should have been pronounced at 4:00PM. The time John and I usually arrive home in the afternoon.
I watch now as the nurse removes all the needles. I look peaceful. (That's what people say about the dead.) Oh, look she's washing the blood off my face. Is it still my face? She gently covers my body with a clean, white sheet and picks up a clipboard. She's checking off the tubes, needles and drugs on the list. Someone will have to pay for all those check marks. I hope Medicare covers it all. She turns off the light as she leaves the room. My body doesn't care. Her shoes squeak on the tile.
I don't know what to do now. I never died before. Interesting process. I don't think it would have hurt at all if I hadn't hit my head on the curb when I fell down on Main Street.
We, John and I, finished our afternoon treat at the Mocha, Etc. Coffee House. He always has coffee and a cream scone with butter. Yeah, bad for him. He's ninety-five, like me, let him enjoy life. I like, well liked, tea; not the same kind every day. And those little Madeline cookies. I could eat a dozen of those golden ovals.
Today I had a lovely green tea. We sat, not talking much. Silence doesn't bother people who have been together as long as we have. There's not much we don't know about each other after sixty years of talking.
We greeted the other regular customers, the ones we know by name but have no idea of where they live or what they do outside Mocha Etc. We walked out the door and waved to Sue and Mike, the owners. They called our names and said "Good-bye. See you tomorrow." John said, "Of course.
Then, while John unlocked our Toyota, I noticed everything going black and my head buzzed inside and our. I felt cold and I disappeared. Te next think I knew I was in the back of an ambulance with a screaming siren. Something was pushing on my chest and I heard urgent voices. I tried to open my eyes, but it was dark. I couldn't tell if my eyes were open. I disappeared again.
They rushed me from the ambulance to this little cubicle. That's when I floated up here and noticed my body still on the gurney. It was four o'clock. I don't know where John is. How do I get down from here? I'll push off with my hands. OK here I go--UP!! I want to go down. Think down. Good. I guess I better just sit here on this light fixture.
I'm looking at the sheet covering my body. The door opens and a nurse helps John into the room. He doesn't look so good. The nurse pulls the sheet back from my face, pats John's hand and leaves us--well John and my body--alone. I'm not sure what I am now. My body was my identity; to paraphrase an old saying. At least I think it's an old saying. I float down so I am across from John. He looks at my body for a long time. Then he kisses my forehead and says, "Bye Darling. I'd better go call Peter."
I try to follow him and find out I'm not a ghost because I can't float through the door.
It's 4:30PM now. How do I get our of here? Shouldn't I be going to heaven or purgatory? I don't think I did anything to deserve hell. I didn't see the light people talk about or my ancestors. Maybe this is limbo.
Hey, I'm getting smaller. The top of my head is below the edge of the gurney. It's five o'clock. I'm bored in this little cubicle with my dead body. I can't even see it I'm so small
The door opens. Andy, from Carter Brothers Mortuary comes in with another gurney. I know Andy because it seems we've been saying good-bye to someone about twice a month lately. Andy, you better remember don't fix me up, just cremate me. Hey watch it! Don't step on me.
My body's under a nice blue velvet cover now and Andy's wheeling it out the door. I try to follow even though I'm a little speck down here. I can't...I'm gone now.