This is supposedly a life-reaffirming act – listening to the heart beat; feeling for the steady, staccato rhythm of one's pulse that announces I am alive. It is supposed to be reassuring. But I listen to this tiny, fist-sized organ pump once, and I cannot bring myself to appreciate it. One beat isn't enough; I have to anticipate the next, and the next after that. It is the next beat that keeps us going after all, the next that heralds a continuation, the next that means I am not done yet–
One day there won't be a next. Listening, feeling, waiting in that split second between heartbeats doesn't reaffirm life for me. I'm too busy being reminded of our mortality, of the next that won't come, and it scares the living daylights out of me.