Book Excerpts

Chapter 1. Dying


The throbbing in my head is so loud I can barely hear the voices outside the door. I can't remember where I am. The room is small. The walls are yellow or white — I can't tell which. There is a toilet and a sink. The tile floor is hard when my knees slam onto it. The pressure behind my eyes is almost unbearable. My vision is blurry, and I can taste bitter bile at the back of my throat. My stomach starts to turn and heave as breath escapes my mouth. It's like there are holes in my lungs, and hard as I try, I cannot hold air in them. I can feel blood dripping from my nose. My body is turning inside out. I'm confused, I can't fucking think, and I am so cold. The room begins to spin, and I am slipping away. Is this it? Is this what death feels like?

I always thought it would come quietly. I always thought I was not afraid to die. I had been waiting, expecting, and inviting it for years. I used to dream about what it would be like to close my eyes and never have to open them again. I longed for the peace that I was sure death would bring. I wanted to end my constant pain.

And now, in this strange, unfamiliar bathroom, I can taste death. Suddenly I am afraid. Panic comes over me, and my heart is beating fast. Then it gets quiet, very quiet. My head stops pounding, my heart slows, and there's a moment of clarity.

I am going to die by myself and no one is going to notice that I am gone. I could disappear from the face of the earth and no one would know. I never saw this coming. In that place between here and the afterlife, when the anger falls away, I realize how alone I am and how much of life I have missed.

I am twenty-one years old and I had planned on being so much more. I wanted to graduate from high school and go to college on a swimming scholarship. I wanted to study psychology, write a book, find a life, and be happy. I wanted to make my parents proud. I wanted to be someone and make a real difference in the world. I wanted to have an extraordinary life.

There are so many things that I want to say to my family, but it's too late. A grip tightens around my neck, and my breath becomes very shallow. My head hits the floor, and with a deep ache in my heart and terrible regret in my soul, I close my eyes to die. My mom will be so sad that it ended this way.


It has been a good day. I am feeling hopeful, happy, and strong once again. It's been three years since Kristina left home, choosing drugs instead of help, and finally we are recovering from that terrible loss. My two younger daughters are smiling and laughing again, my son has graduated from college and has gone on to be very successful in his life, and I am healing from a painful divorce.

We are moving on. We miss Kristina terribly, but our lives are so much more peaceful without her. I never thought I would say such a thing about my own daughter, but her addiction had been totally disruptive for all of us, and life is better with her out of the house.

We have just finished dinner and I am washing the dishes when I'm overcome with a feeling of darkness that I have never known before. A mother can sense her children living and dying. I know Kristina's heart is slowing, and I am seized by tightness in my chest.

I have always loved her deeply, and my heart aches for her. She does not deserve to die. I pray for her to go peacefully. It will all be over soon. She will be able to rest. I will be able to rest. God, please keep her safe.