Deep Creek Youghiogheny
Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 31, 2010
With nothing left to live for, no joy in my life, no pleasure in waking, breathing, eating, or even being, I knew I had to just get it over with and die. I went through all the options: gun placed in my mouth to fire upwards, blowing the top of my head off – way too messy.
Razor along my vein, for maximum loss of blood – too slow, and painful. What of pain? I shouldn’t care, but, it’s because I tired of pain that I no longer feel anything at all. No sense having pain be my last memory.
Jumping? What if I survive? What if I’m paralyzed? unable to die? kept alive for nothing?
Pills? so I can wake up choking on my own vomit?
Jumping in front of a bus? Same problem as jumping.
I really couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t involve some kind of pain, slow death, or public display. I didn’t want anyone to know I died, or how I died. I had no one to impress, no one to feel sorry for me, no one to send a message to. I just wanted it all to be over.
I found a solution: drowning. I knew it would be unpleasant. I had a plan for that. Nitrous oxide. I would feel myself drowning, trying to pull air into my lungs, trying to breathe, but I wouldn’t care. I’d laugh my way into death, gulping in whole lungfuls of water. Then peace, with a smile on my face.
The water was deepest near the dam, about 75 feet, so I’d plunge deep into the numbing cold water. I wanted to sink, and sink fast. I found four twenty-pound ankle weights. It was hard walking with them, but I practiced until I managed to just look like I was just drunk or high or old. And jeez, was I ever old. Too old for life to hold any interest anymore.
With a small canister of nitrous oxide, I crossed Deep Creek’s concrete bridge leading to the dam. It was 3:00 am. I walked, slowly and silently. There was no traffic that time of morning. I’d been there often enough to know. I climbed the fence to the dam, clumsily, but without making a sound. There was a maintenance ladder on the dam itself. As I grabbed each rung, my legs felt dead. It took a lot of effort to pull them up with me. I was sweating in that nearly freezing air. Those weights got heavier with every breath.
The water was calm, and inviting. I opened up the canister and let it fill me with gas. I had a small mask to cover my mouth and nose. It took longer than I thought. I hung there on the ladder, a few feet from the top. My legs were tired. My feet were hooked uncomfortably in the rungs. My hands, wrists, and ankles ached from the climb. After awhile, I didn’t care much about the slight pain anymore. I didn’t care much about the cold night air. I was really happy, for the first time in many years. I didn’t feel like laughing, but I was smiling. I dropped the canister into the water. The splash was reassuring, calming, a funny preview of my own fall.
I threw myself out as far as I could. I was taking no chances, but there was little danger of hitting the dam wall, as it curved inward at this point, near the long tunnel that takes water to the powerhouse. The water flows past the turbines, back into Deep Creek lake, back into the Youghiogheny river, continuing on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. I hit feet first, as I expected. There was pain, pain to my feet, despite the thick hiking boots I’d worn, pain to my knees, pain to my hips. But the water was so cold, and I was so excited, it didn’t matter. I sunk quickly. I opened my eyes, surprised that I’d had them shut so long, surprised that I was holding my breath. There was not much to see. It was dark, but some light from the power plant was reflected down into the depths. I had expected to touch bottom, but I seemed to be drifting down incredibly slowly.
It was time. I pushed my stomach in with my fists, expelling a lot of air. It blooped out of my mouth and nose. When it seemed I had no more air left, I held myself still, trying not to breathe until the last possible second, when my reflexes would kick in and force me to. It was peaceful. As I faced death, I realized I was ready. She was gone forever. There was no one left to care for, no one to mourn my passing, no reason for my existence. I was now useless. I’d had a good life. I’d loved, and lost, and loved again, and again. I’d worked many jobs, some I’d enjoyed, some I hadn’t. I had done all that I had set out to do, and I was content with my lot in life. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t want to die out of regret. Hell, if I’d still had any regrets, I’d have wanted to keep on living, kept on trying to overcome those regrets for the rest of my life. No, I had no regrets. It was just time to go.
My lungs burned with the beginnings of pain, so I opened my mouth and swallowed, deeply. I sucked greedily at the water, blowing some residual water out my nose. Then, then there was only water, and I was afraid. Fear stabbed at me like an ice pick through my heart. I wanted to breath! I wanted air. My brain felt funny. It was hard to think, but I kept trying to breathe. There was a heaviness in my head, a feeling of darkness. My lungs struggled, again and again, for air. The water was too heavy, too thick. I kept choking. I started retching, water into water, and water back in again. It hurt. It hurt bad. Worst of all was the feeling of panic, of absolute fear. I thought I’d wanted to die, but now I wanted to breathe, to live, to think again.