Waking Up to the Not-Death

I woke up about six weeks ago and realized I couldn’t keep doing things the way I was doing them or it would kill me.

Meghan Ferrin
7 min readDec 7, 2021


Not literally, obviously. I could go on like this, miserable and stagnant, indefinitely. I wouldn’t call that living but it’s also not death.

Is being alive really enough to be called the opposite of death? Is it the not-death? If it is, I’d like off this ride, thank you very much.

I love me some Unsplash but this is mine.

In late July of this year, the chaotic hellmouth that has been 2021 opened wide and and swallowed my family whole.

Fine, that’s a little dramatic, but my father was having some difficulty breathing.

He ignored it for a bit, then finally went to the doctor and was promptly hospitalized for pretty severe congestive heart failure. He’s 68 and, yeah, that’s a fairly common thing to happen to white men in their late 60s, but it turned my world upside down.

For the first time in two decades my whole family — minus my dad, I suppose, who was in the hospital — was under one roof, dealing with a crisis.

A crisis during which only two people were allowed to be at the hospital at a time (which daughter will go sit in an uncomfortable hospital chair and listen to Mom and Dad bicker today?) because there’s a global pandemic and a surge and a new variant and the eastern side of Washington State hasn’t really been great about the whole vaccine thing.

By the time he was able to go home on oxygen ten days later, there were multiple COVID patient rooms on his floor, each door marked with big signs and warnings about proper PPE, and one of my dad’s nursing aids had finally decided to get her first vaccine shot.

When he had to check back in a week later, he spent a long twelve hours waiting in the ER because there were no rooms available for a man with oxygen saturation levels in the 50s, and the visitor limit had dropped to one.

I’m 40 years old. I have a complicated relationship with my parents, particularly my dad. His first hospitalization brought up a lot of really difficult shit above and beyond the illness he was hospitalized for, shit that I’ll probably write about another time, when I’m not…



Meghan Ferrin

In recovery from hustle culture.