I recoiled, grabbed my face and hair, pulling and clawing at them as I writhed as quietly as I could, lest I wake my wife who had just dropped off to sleep. This is what panic feels like; the unannounced split second I realised my own mortality.
This is not the first time it has happened. I can remember being physically stopped in my tracks as I followed a customer to their desk to help them with an IT issue. The sudden awareness that this could or would all stop at some point floored me. Shaking, I helped fix her problem and sat in the toilet for 30 minutes, trying to regain my composure. The realisation that everything around me would continue and I wouldn’t be aware of it. I would cease to exist.
I worry that now I am over 50, that I don’t have many years left. I worry that the ache I have in my back is cancer, rotting me from the inside, ruling out any means of treatment. I fret that my children won’t be able to fend for themselves, still living at home without jobs or a future I can imagine. That my wife, who I support more than anyone, won’t be able to continue without me, that everyone is too reliant upon me, that I would leave a huge gaping hole in their lives.
In the darkness of the night, the terror came across me like a wave. One day, I would not be here, that everything I know and love wouldn’t be here; that there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening.
It’s a cruel joke.