Breathless. For me, it’s that moment when the world I thought I knew turns on its axis and I feel unable to anchor myself to reality. Not a word I take lightly or use very often. Few are the times I can recall in my life the time I actually felt that way.
- Thrice with my husband. The first, the day following our wedding as we drove to Toronto for our weekend honeymoon. I looked at him, he smiled and I was breathless. Second, the breathless moment I realized years later, that no matter how self-destructive I was, he loved me, for myself, without question or reservation. The third, a fourth of July, many years following that, the darkest moment in our marriage. That breathless moment seemed to last a lifetime. As we approach our thirtieth anniversary, I am eternally grateful for the significance of all three in our lives.
- Our son was a high risk pregnancy after three miscarriages and born ten days premature by C-Section. For a variety of reasons I didn’t get a chance to hold him in the delivery room. Four hours after delivering him and numerous updates from the ICU neo-natal nurse, I was informed his condition warranted a transfer to the Children’s Hospital ICU neo-natal unit. They wheeled him into the room in his isolette for me to look at him. I wasn’t breathless until I realized they’d left with him and I’d never touched him. With great joy I got the opportunity four days later after I was discharged and went to him. At 23 today, he’s a blessing I never take for granted.
- The moment before I introduced myself to a group of women in a sexual abuse survivors group. Breathless and filled with shame. In the 12 weeks that followed, the amazing women in the group, Steve and my writing helped ground me and shed the shame I felt.
- Shortly after midnight, January 20, 2006, when I walked into the ICU after being separated from my mother for 45 minutes while she was transferred from the ER to the ICU. The traumatic brain injury she’d suffered earlier the previous evening had done its damage and I feared in that breathless moment that the woman before me, a mere shadow of the woman I’d left 45 minutes earlier, was irrevocably changed. My heart still aches for what she endured the next three years.
- December 26, 2009, ten short months after my mother passed, sitting at my father’s hospital bedside, as he took his last breath. A sudden passing, just 8 short days after finding a giant aneurysm with resulting surgery and complications. Breathless in the relief that he didn’t have to struggle anymore in living each day without his soul mate of sixty years. His five children at his side as he passed…I know a great solace to him.
- June 7, 2012 - 7:00 pm as I watched my oldest brother die in the ICU hours after triple bypass. As I stood and watched the activity of the resuscitation team: the CPR, the medications, the communication and the successful result as they miraculously brought him back to us…breathless.
Eight ground shaking and life altering moments for me. I’m known to be very pragmatic as well as very emotional. Hence a lot may touch me, but it takes a lot to shake my core. And for that I’m grateful.