” Just take a deep breath. Calm down.”
“I can’t. I am trying and I can’t.”
This was the conversation with my husband on a Monday in late May. I was driving our screaming daughter back from her 6 month appointment where she had received several immunizations. He was driving himself to the ER in North Carolina because he had chest pain and difficulty breathing since his early morning flight. He sounded anxious. The mother and yogi in me could only reassure him remotely with a cue to breathe. Which, come to find out an hour later, was nearly impossible because his right lung had spontaneously collapsed.
It has been a month of learning new words and pronounciations: pneumothorax and pluerodesis. It has been long nights of wondering if my baby is still breathing, and now wondering if my young, fit, and able bodied husband is still breathing. It seems so simple, breathing in and out. It is something I realized that I have taken for granted as it was whisked away from my husband in a matter of moments. It made me wonder: what else do I take for granted?
The sun rising and setting each day.
The two strong legs that I get out of bed to stand on each morning.
My heart as it continues to beat day in and day out.
My arms which can hold my sweet baby when she needs me.
My ears that can hear music and laughter.
My eyes witnessing the seasons change, strangers smile, and beautiful landscapes.
And this list can go on and on… just as I assumed the breath of my beloved husband would go on and on until we were old and wrinkled. I have never been so grateful for modern medicine, which saved his life twice in one month. First, in North Carolina that Monday afternoon when he received his first chest tube. Then two weeks later when his lung collapsed a second time at home on a Thursday night. I was able to use my yoga skills more successfully this time to make him comfortable through the wee hours of the morning: -gentle words, restorative yoga, and all the props, We went to the ER the next day which included another chest tube, emergency surgery, and a four day hospital stay. I am happy to say that now after his follow up appointment, scheduled nearly a month to the day of his first lung collapse, he is recovering. He can take that deep breath I asked him to take when we were both driving our separate ways.
I have a new sense of reverence, awe, and gratitude for each inhale and exhale. Often I cue to my students at the end of my yoga classes to use their breathing throughout the day to bring a sense of calm and peace to challenging moments. Now. I see this as a gift that some people do not the luxury of experiencing. To be able to behold and feel one’s own breath every moment is not just a way to regulate the nervous system, but I now consider it a way to see and feel the divine beauty that is life.
Peace, Love, and Namaste,