I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart: I am, I am, I am.
– Sylvia Plath
“How do you tell if something’s alive? You check for breathing.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
In one of those rare moments when I rose above the pain, I realized that I was breathing. It was not just one of those shallow breaths that we hold onto for too long; it rose above me and out towards the world.
I had been holding my breath for so long, or trying not to, that I did not know how good it would feel.
This was a moment when I realized I could see beyond the grief. Once I exhaled, I realized that I had clarity in my mind as well as my body.
These moments are to be treasured for breathing is no simple task. Holding onto our air and diving deep, or being submerged with no known way out, takes more effort. It costs more, it feels more, to withhold our breath.
My grief and loss took my breath away and I did not know how long it would take to get it back. Once I did, I realized just how long I had been under the ebbs and flows of pounding waves, and how long it had taken me to come out to shore. My feet pressing into the Earth was a reminder that other parts of my body denied attention were still there.
Trying to ground myself deeper into being reminded me that those whose lack of empathy or compassion was truly hurtful no longer deserved my attention. It was my own once again.
Even if it only happened once in awhile, I was miraculously able to acknowledge it, appreciate it, and wait for its next return.
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