I cannot tell a die

Sometimes I think I’m going to catch someone in the act of trying to die on me.
A few weeks ago, I was out in the living room alone, watching something inane on TV, when my dog, Taxi, tiptoed over and hung out with me for about five minutes. His “dad” had gone to bed a while ago, and Taxi had followed.
At first I was amused, because ordinarily the two of them go into the bedroom together and don’t leave the room until the next morning. But being the chronic worrier that I am, the amusement quickly turned to alarm.
“Oh my god, he’s out here because the DOG is dead. Yes, he’s dead, he’s stopped breathing … he’s dead and this is Taxi’s way of letting me know. I’m going to go in there and see a dead guy. What do I do if he’s dead? Does this mean our plans for the weekend are off?”
I crept into the bedroom, accompanied by Taxi, and approached the bed. Held my own breath in order to listen for the DOG’s. “I don’t hear anything, I don’t hear anything!” I panicked. I edged closer, the familiar cold hand on the back of my neck asserting itself. And then, true to form, the DOG … snurfled. That annoying sound that, on an ordinary night, makes me wish he would stop breathing (if only temporarily). The cold hand disappeared, and I left the room, pretending I was disgusted by his snore.
But that’s not the only time I’ve thought that someone was going to die on me unexpectedly. There were numerous occasions years ago, when my mom and I used to commute together on the train into Philadelphia (we were both glamorous legal secretaries — sort of like the Blythe Danner/Gwyneth Paltrow of the legal secretarial world), when I thought that she had died on me too.
Invariably the rocking of the train would cause her to nod off, and I would watch her face, beautiful in its animation while awake, become even more so in its serenity while asleep. One time she was extraordinarily still, and I actually thought, “So this is what she’s going to look like some day.”
I hit myself in the arm, told myself to shut the fuck up, and then did something — pretended to cough, rustled a newspaper, cleared my throat — so she would wake up. Her eyelids slowly opened, her lips formed a smile, and I pretended it was an ordinary morning.