Breath of life
I took it almost 46 years ago, forced from a gloved hand in a cold hospital room, covered in blood but alive I inhaled and cried. I exhaled and cried.
Through the colic I strained for it, between gasps and tears and screams of terror. They held me upside down so that I could regain it, it was life and I needed it desperately and in a different position I found it.
As a child I stood out on a summer day. The sun shone down on my head as I inhaled the fresh smells of cut hay, the birds flew so high and I could hear the drone of the cicadas and I knew this was a moment of pure perfection. In and out my breath starting out in excitement, ending in a quiet deep moving rhythm of in and out to the beat of my heart.
As a young adult I held it in the freezing February air as I got into his car, excited for what the day would bring and felt it warm as we went inside the big cavernous bar that seemed so sad and empty. I inhaled the smell of my ginger ale as he sipped his drink laughing at the man behind the bar. Back into the cold it chilled my lungs once more but then we were in a familiar place and it came back in memories the warmth of this place. I was going to get my present he had ordered for me and I felt so very special. I stopped breathing when he came closer and put his hand down my shirt, just to see he said, just to feel like he did so long ago in a faraway place. I held my breath still as he kissed me and I ran and ran for a place that wasn’t here. I looked out the window at friends outside screaming in my head oh please let me breathe again, please come ask me out to play, to help me escape but he found me and I still couldn’t breathe but I did.
After that I lived a non- life. Not breathing, not existing, just a lump of nothing. I don’t remember when I began breathing again, maybe my teen years, my first real kiss, inhaling the scent of a boy not quite man but soon enough. I felt special again, but this time it was a good special. I was beautiful, I was normal and I could breathe once more. Fully and completely, in and out. So so very sweet.
Many years have come and gone and I am older and wiser and smarter about my breathing. I breathe in joy by releasing the sad. I replace the feelings of drowning by opening my lungs to song and word and abundance. When I was young I could have been old. When the lump was found, when they said it wasn’t cancer, and then later when they said it was, I kept breathing. I was alive damn it and I wasn’t going to let this take my breath. I had come so very far to turn back now. That road is closed, road block in place and I forged ahead breathing with joy. I had a light feeling that I shared with others. I was the cheerleader of the chemo class, I watched the people around me fight for life and sometimes lose.
I could breathe. I could live. Or I could curl up and die. I choose to live, to breathe in and out, to take each breath and hold it like a butterfly, so exquisite and fragile but a butterfly will fly and coast and soar thousands of miles to live in the warmth. It chooses life.
I choose to breathe, there for to inhale.
Breath of life