Death by food poisoning was circa 2005. I was still married at that time so to set the scene, it was 11 pm-ish, the kids are asleep, James is downstairs watching TV (or porn or playing video games), and I was lying on my back on the couch in our darkened living room, crying softly to myself about the CIA.
I knew they were up to something, detaining people; making them eat tainted Costco ground beef, and doing it in the name of, what exactly?—I whimpered to my thoughts—“American values”? Like where we torture people by feeding them e.coli until hunched over toilet bowls they violently expel the ‘implant’ and everything they know?
I was not in a healthy state, both body and mind doing a little interpretive dance with reality, and the malfunctioning electrolytes were cinching brain waves until it was beyond the capability of my nausea to endure such mindfuckery and I mentally packed up and disbanded.
The repeating cycle of redecorating my bathroom with the hamburger I’d had for lunch began—at the very start of the evening— with the slow build of nausea precipitating a mini-wave of panic.
For I still hadn’t emotionally recovered from the nausea experienced five years before courtesy of my second baby (who I actually still ended up loving). That was a nausea which had stayed inside my cells to solidify their legacy in muscle memories of a sickness so transformative I actually felt guilty for having it. And now here I was—five years post “nausea baby”—having hedonistically-squandered the interim years (living like that privileged bitch) now barely able to stagger back to the couch, the only remaining liquid I’d managed to hoard post-vomit already pissed and gurgling in the depths of my bowels before my ass even found the cushions.
I had ignored the debt I owed my misery/had not honored it with celebrations of life. And now shit was getting so dark I was strapped into a body performing an exorcism on itself—begging God for mercy—while just coherent enough to make it worse by analyzing America.
I don’t remember when things got better that night; there wasn’t some moment of “Thank you sweet Jesus” and if there was I’d share it. Because I’m not religious at all but certainly the Christians have endured enough with that war on Christmas. Plus I’m American and clearly on the moral grift—capable of justifying implanting AND expelling demons—so I’m patriotically programmed to thank a deity I don’t personally believe in for the opportunity to keep water down.
But the truth is slowly, somehow, the shivering, vomiting, and hallucinating, gave way, and I fell into the stupor of health. Yet forever changed this time.
For its 2020 now. That second baby is 19, in college, (nausea now only caused by her overuse of puns) and I haven’t been that sick or religious since.
But in the interim years, I’ve thought about that night—writing this ~15 years later in loving dedication—being intent on paying the debt of that misery.
Because I think sometimes only from bathroom floors covered in their own barf should privileged bitches rise. And I think in light of everything, the Christians would be pleased to know that staggering up from the floor was a coherent measure of pious gratitude. For if in the midst of delirium and dry heaves, the agnostic finds themselves begging God to help our thirst, it speaks to a religious redemption not yet identified even as it clearly can be tidied up to become some major collection-plate material.