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Taking My Breath Away

Mom and DadThe call came: an accident. Frantic calls and a harried journey home. The shock of this new reality hit me so hard I couldn’t breath. I raced up those familiar bending stairs and found myself purging everything inside myself, body and soul. The jagged sobs would not subside. The pain was so intense it was as if life itself could not possibly continue on. How could it?  I prayed. I begged and pleaded with On High to fix this, to change the very course of time, turning back the hands to make this not be. Yet somehow it was.

Somehow life did not get the message that it could not go on, and in defiance of what should be it plodded along at its usual rate. I fell behind; I stumbled to catch up. I tried to catch my breath, to breathe deliberately, slowly. In the peculair way which time seems to work, I finally slipped back into the rhythms of life and journeyed on, not whole, but living.

Life has it’s ebbs and flows just like the water that took my father’s breath away. The water. Always I am drawn to the water. I am hesitant and fearful of it’s power, and yet calmed by it’s rhythmic tides. Peter walking on the water stirs in me this place I still can not comprehend. I yearn for the water.  I yearn for the vastness and the strength of the water: to dive in, fully clothed and embrace the water.

Mother knew the water too, the baptismal waters which called to her that day. She always feared the other waters, feared drowning. It was a rough way to lose him, I think, for her in particular. In some ways a part of her drowned too, never whole, missing him always. Who could blame her when we too were missing a piece of our soul, forever incomplete. Pouring out her soul for others, always giving everything and still never enough. And when the time came for her to give no more it was again the breath that was taken away. Slowly at first and then more and more. And when her final breath was taken up there was a stillness that I have never felt. No waves, no crashing waves, or soothing rhythm, only stillness. Cold and silent. There was nothing. No trickle of water from my eyes, no purging of my soul. There were no breathy prayers. There was just this vapid body with no soul.

Oh how different these two days were, separated not only by the decades, but by every single sense. Finally the waters began to flow again, first slowly, finding their way from my eyes down to my heart, then more so that it washed over me.

And always as the waters enshrine me, He who has twice taken from me my very breath, He breathes anew into me a breath that can not be taken away, not by water nor by death itself.  And. I. Breathe. Again.

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