I guess it happens all the time, to everyone. Sometimes we see it happen, other times it happens without us even knowing. Brushes with death. When we notice it, it's a wake up call, a reminder of the fragility of it all. When we don't notice... well... I don't know, maybe we realise somewhere, way deep down in our psyches and we draw a breath in, surprising ourselves, but not really knowing why.
It started last Monday, fairly innocuously, but I was pre-menstrual at the time and terribly emotionally fragile, so I was struck down with a terrible sadness that made me want to sob. It was a floating upside-down fish in a fish tank at a fish restaurant, being removed most carefully into a plastic bag. He was being taken home to the restaurant family owner's son's (and our waiter) tank, hopefully to be revived from whatever goldfishy ailment had turned his world, literally, upside-down. It all seemed too much. Remember... I was awfully PMSsey.
The next morning, I narrowly missed 'walking into' a crime scene. See post before this, or before that one. It made me want to devise some kind of filming set-up that filmed a minute ahead of me, and a minute after. Wouldn't that be fascinating? Or maybe just give one more to worry about.
And then, last night, the third (and hopefully last... come on Old Wive's, prove you're right with that 'Bad luck comes in threes' thing. Please.) This, truly, was a proper eye-opener, not a hormone-induced sob-fest.
They'd unwisely brought some of the fire they'd made outside into their completely closed room. Her mother had done it when they lived in the Transkei, in a hut with windows which had no glass and a door that opened onto the beautiful Kei hills. She didn't think that it'd suck the oxygen from their lungs and fill the room with god-knows-what noxious gases. It did.
I heard her screaming to her sister, her son as they, all three of them - two grown women and one 7-year old came into the house and literally fell into my room looking as if they'd all been drinking. He was crying quietly and squirming in his mother's arms. Her sister fell onto my bed, sliding down onto the floor where I could hear her breathing heavily as I simultaneously tried to get the story out of her, calm them all down and call an ambulance, my father, anyone.
It seemed like hours before they all descended on the house, as I thanked my lucky stars for family, friends, paramedics. An hour later and all had been examined and given the all-okay, her sister up off the floor, standing up, breathing normally, her oxygen levels back to normal.
And me - a swirling, bubbling, confused mixture of sheer anxiety, fear, claustrophobia, sadness and anger. I just feel like I need a good, hard, and possibly loud, cry. The fragility of us all, the momentariness, the fact that death really is always just there, waiting, it all just seems too much.
We're all alive though. For now.