Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Learning How To Breathe With No Air...

"If I should die before I wake
It's 'cause you took my breath away
Losing you is like living in a world with no air...

But how do you expect me
to live alone with just me
'Cause my world revolves around you
It's so hard for me to breathe

But somehow I'm still alive inside

You took my breath, but I survived
I don't know how..."

Dear Sof, 
Every day I am reminded of how difficult it is to breathe in this new world. Even after 8 months with you not here, I continue to be panic stricken when a moment takes away the little breath that I have left.
Today when I was leaving work, I saw a Christmas tree displayed and lit outside of our gift shop. My brain understands that the holidays are coming sooner than later…but my heart is another story. As soon as I saw those bright, white lights that lay perfectly on that tree, all of my breath escaped my body.
I’m just not ready to face the holidays without you here; the way that you are supposed to be.
 I know that we will still honor you and include you in our holiday festivities. 
We are already in process of working on a beautiful tree that will be available for donation to Akron Children’s Hospital, in your honor. We are calling it, “The Sofia” and it will be adorned with perfect butterflies and topped with a very sweet angel.
I know that we will still hang a stocking inscribed with your beautiful name, hung gently right between mine and daddy’s;  because having a stocking hung for you in our home that we will never be able to see you open, somehow hurts less than not having one for you at all.
I know that we will attend a remembrance service for you and donate a perfect gift for baby girl who is the same age that you would be.
You will be remembered, honored, and loved. 
But today, on October 18th, when I left work and my heart ran smack into that Christmas tree…I just wasn’t prepared. The reality of you not being with us for your first Christmas is just too much to swallow. Which is ok, because in that moment, I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t breathe at all. I could only ache.
I had always thought that any type of suffocation would be this world’s cruelest fate.  A feeling of absolute terror intertwined perfectly with absolute helplessness.  I have often watched movies that contain a drowning scene, and have witnessed the devastating results of a drowning patient at work, and my mind can’t help but wonder what those last, terrifying moments would feel like.
 I read that in a drowning death you first experience intense panic and an overwhelming need to keep your face above water. You frantically kick your legs but for some reason keep your hands still. You are silent, you don't try to say anything. You just feel panic. After a couple of minutes you realize that you are sinking. All of the air has now left your lungs. You start to inhale water and it burns as it goes down your throat. You can look up and see the surface, but you feel heavy. The water burns as it begins to fill your lungs…but then you feel at peace. You close your eyes and you succumb to death.
Many days I have felt this heaviness, this burning of a different sort. I’m not drowning in the traditional sense, but the panic and the helplessness are as real as if I were.
With each breath, your lungs become heavier, you are unsure if your body will be able to sustain their weight. Imagine an incredibly hot, humid, sticky day… a day where the air around you feels more like a solid than a breathable gas. With each breath, you are so aware of its thickness, that it takes a conscious effort to swallow in that solid air and gulp it down into those weighted lungs. 
That’s what air feels like with every breath I take, ever since you, my sweet girl, stopped taking yours.
But the human body is amazing, and its resilience to adapt is undeniable. I remember learning a while back that those who find themselves in high altitudes for long periods of time, adjust to compensate for the lower amount of oxygen supply in the air. Their bodies physically turn into an amazing machine as their breathing rate, kidney function, and blood cells all work together to sustain the body as it actually learns to breathe differently. ..in an atmosphere with less breathable air.
I suppose that is what is happening to me.  I am compensating…adapting. The air I breathe is still painful; it burns with each breath of the emptiness that I feel without you. My lungs are heavy but my heart even heavier, which is ironic, because one would think that a broken heart should weigh less somehow.  Yet still, I am learning how to breathe differently.  I am learning how to breathe in this world of no air.
I will never be able to make sense of what has happened in this lifetime. I will never understand why babies have to die at all. I will never understand why this happened to you. I will never understand how our life got so off course.
But I will think of you, miss you and remember you with every breath I take for the rest of my life, and because of you, I will keep breathing, and just maybe that burning will one day turn to into peace. 
The lightness of air and the involuntary act of breathing at all; is something that I will never take for granted, if I should ever be given that gift once again. 
Maybe I’ll ask for that gift of "breathing naivety" for Christmas this year? Or maybe I can sleep through the holidays all together and just wake up in  January?
 I wonder what Santa would say if he pulled my letter out of his North Pole mailbox that read: “Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas this year, is my baby back.”?
I’m thinking that would put a damper on the holiday cheer. So there will be no letter to Santa for me…no Christmas Wish that just can’t be.
Instead I will wish that I feel you close to me through the holidays, and all the days that lay ahead. I will wish that I am able to close my eyes and imagine you in your perfect red, velvet Christmas dress that is trimmed in snow, white fur that we bought for you to have your Holiday photo taken in .
 I will hope that I can imagine your pure joy as you would play more with the wrapping paper than with any of the insane amounts of gifts that would have been bought for you, and I will once again find myself wishing with all my heart for a chance to catch an echo of your sweet giggles throughout the holiday celebrations…even if only in my dreams.
I love you, sweet baby girl, and so I will focus on you in those moments when I am left with no breath, and I will continue to breathe; even in this world with no air….no air.