I feel the temptation again, to step away from the story and simply explain things from the vantage of experience. But this would not be fair. Not to me. I feel that you should suffer, with me or rather, I think you should suffer like me. Perhaps that's not what I mean either.
Honestly, it is remote now, and I strive to relive it. That's why I am writing. For who is reading? Who is caring? Who does my story concern? Only me.
But if there were a you... an invisible reader. How different things could be.
You could feel my uncertainty and disorientation. You would say, "Yes, I can see how it was painful. That was more painful than anything I ever had to deal with." Or. "How did you endure it? I don't think I could." Then we could agree that I suffered. And we could agree that it was meaningless. "The tragedy is that it was all for nothing."
How many groans of mankind are left unstudied? The vast majority of them to be sure. No one pauses or reflects on the inherent absurdity of the vast majority of awkward confrontations or embarrassments. No one thinks about the freakish absurdity of an accidental crossing of the Styx. The gargling cry in the night from a man dying of some nameless disease in some nameless place.
I survived my own near encounter. I saw the boatman, and nearly paid the coin. I stepped back, but there is a dark future ahead. I will step on that boat and no one will mark my point of departure from this world with a gravestone. If I could write my own epitaph, it would say "and no man afterward remembered that poor man."
So, tell me. Why should I skip forward a single moment or omit a single pang of being from my narrative? I should describe describe the growth of the hairs on my neck.
But I will be merciful. I will say no more of my despair, but this: something within me snapped in that moment on the table, and regardless of what lies beyond, only death can heal me.