Falling Like Flies

Sometimes, I look at everything I worry about, and I laugh.

Sometimes, I want to be happy for the sake of being happy so that if I died tomorrow, I would enjoy this one moment of life.

Sometimes, I wish people bothered me less. Why do you need to say “hello” every time I pass you on the street? Why do you feel the need to smile and call me “gorgeous” and when I don’t respond, keep talking like it’s my loss.

Sometimes, I wish people bothered me more.

Just yesterday, a friend of mine found out her landlord passed away from cancer. She was diagnosed a few months ago, complaining of stomach pains, but by then, the cancer was already at an advanced stage.

Just this past week, a colleague of mine doubled over in stomach pain and made it to the hospital. He’s been on bedrest ever since and has lost 10 pounds in the past week. He’s over 90 so the stakes aren’t looking good.

On this day, four and a half years ago, I was admitted to the hospital, having seen the doctor for a severe yeast infection. I came out with diabetes.

But the loathsome existence of my disease seems to pale in comparison to these other tragedies. How short life seems when people are falling like flies around you.

I once had a fly infestation in a house I lived in one summer between semesters in college. I was renting a small room on the second floor, and every day, I would swat at flies and clean up bodies that crumpled in my paper towel as soon as I picked them up. I learned it didn’t take long for a fly’s body to disintegrate in 90-degree Ohio heat.

My roommate and I also attempted to trap the flies between the screens on the outside of the window and the glass within. I would watch them slowly lose their buzz while I made dinner. In the morning, I opened the window and cleaned the remains.

This also was during my peanut butter phase. My roommate, also a peanut butter junkie, walked around the house with a jar and a spoon. But at least she was working on building muscle. The fat content wasn’t doing much for my inactive desk job.

In the hopes of maintaining some healthy dignity, I bought the natural creamy kind. I opened the jar, mixing the oil on top with the creamy texture on the bottom.

One time, as I was tending to my peanut butter needs, a fly flew into the jar. He couldn’t free himself from the sticky residue and continued to buzz, fighting to fly again.

I just watched in horror as he ruined my recently-bought jar of peanut butter. What should I do? Let the dirty scum waste in my jar as punishment for his intrusion or free him from certain death? I stood there for a moment, watching him struggle, wanting to pluck the wings from his back and bury him deep in the brown mush, but then I removed my spoon from the jar and carried him with it.

I then realized as much as I tried, there was no saving him. The more he struggled, the deeper he dug himself until the peanut butter consumed him. The buzzing stopped, and I dumped his remains in the trash, his wings barely visible.

I salvaged what was left of the peanut butter jar, but it was hard for me to look at it the same. As annoyed as I was, I will always remember the fly’s struggle. Death was inevitable, but his little body wasn’t ready to give up.

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