I'm Afraid of Dying in My Sleep

My health journey isn't about looking great in tight pants.

I have got to get my shit together.

(How many times have I said this?) 

But this time will be different! (How many times have I said this?) 

No; I MEAN it. (This is getting old, Jennifer.) 

What's the difference, this time, "meaning it" wise? 

This time it's not about weight. 

It's not about wanting to wear a bathing suit in public without hesitation. (I already do that, and have pictures to prove it.) 


It's not about me trying a new diet to help keep avocado or whatever-the-hell-a-Keto is grower in business.

What it is about, simply put, is me wanting to go to bed at night to be able to fall asleep peacefully. Instead, my current bedtime routine includes sleeping with a emergency aspirin for the heart attack I am sure to experience at any moment. (Or so my brain tells me; it's a bit of an asshole, sure, but not entirely wrong because cardiac events bloom on every branch of my genetic family tree, and I take medication for high blood pressure.) I am not old, but not young. I am mostly a "Ma'am," less a "Miss"; I am make-permanent-and-irreversable-decisions-about-birth-control-years old. I am all-the-police-officers-who-pull-me-over-are-younger-than-me old. I am was-once-legitimatley-terrified-of-killer-bees-old. 

I want to take the stairs without having to stop after a flight to recover. I would really like to stop comparing blood pressure medication side effects with seniors in line at the drug store. I want to purge from my memory all the chatter I've heard from medical professionals about things like “pressure stockings” and “maybe it’s a touch of arthritis” and “you could consider a partial denture or implant.” I'd really like to be able to stop crying at yoga because FERFUCKSSAKEITHOUGHTYOGAWASCALMING and maybe I truly am the one person who cannot yoga without wanting to punch someone. 

This is about me being terrified of dying in my sleep – a tragedy that ended the beautiful, too short lives of enough people I know in real life to count on both hands. I never want to hear another conversation that starts "Remember Jane Doe from high school?" and ends "she died!"

I have things to do and places to go and people to see and jerks to argue with and dogs to scratch and food to taste and love to make and... being dead gets in the way of doing that, on this plane of existence anyway. 

I know that we cannot control a lot of what happens to us and sometimes people die without warning, in their sleep or otherwise. Life is fragile and it's even completely terrible sometimes, but I want to be in it. This is my accountability campaign and I know others here will be writing about it, too. Join us in making changes grand and small. No one can say; maybe I will die in my sleep. All things considered it ranks higher than "falling in a hole of hungry bears" and "stabbing yourself in the heart trying to cut a frozen turkey" on the Ways to Go scale, but I am not ready yet. I am still young and energetic enough to want to go out kicking. I want to be forcibly removed from a rest home for being unruly and starting food fights and getting caught having sex in the janitor's closet one too many times. 

I have made a personal commitment and promise to treat myself like my body and the space it takes up matter. Sometimes that will mean feeding my feelings buttered hot cross buns and tea with milk and sugar, but MOSTLY it will mean at least trying to eat green things, drinking water, and getting off my ass to raise my heart rate even a teeny bit for a teeny while daily. I know we can't control our outcome to the degree we want. But I can't sit here and do nothing either. I need to do something that will let me lie down at night thinking about all the wonder and beauty and frustration and stress and love and irritation and joy the world and my life will bring me tomorrow, without a sweaty hand curled around a disintegrating security aspirin. 


Jeni Marinucci is YMC's Creative Director. She has a guilty conscience, a love for humour, and a questionable home-haircut. After her children were old enough to make their own sandwiches, she returned to University to complete her B.A. in English Literature—a designation which has provided her with an extensive library and crushing student loans. When no teaching college wanted her, she had to choose between taking orders through a drive-thru window or from an editor. She chose the latter.