It is too terrifying to imagine having thoughts without a voice, love absent a partner, or sadness beyond tears. To live without conscious movement is unimaginably frightening, yet, it is possible that there are greater than 2,000 people in the United States “living” in a conscious and aware vegetative state. It must be worse than death, its solitude maddening.
I close my eyes lying in bed, considering their plight. I imagine hearing my 4-year old son crying at my bedside, my wife bringing her new boyfriend to see me three-thousand, six hundred and fifty days later. I consider seeing the same fluorescent lights and tiles in the same room for all the days of my life and shutter, trembling at the agonizing thought of existence without life.
As I sit up, and begin to step toward my desk, I am haunted by one additional thought:
What if I was in pain too?