The Wheel Turns (and turns and turns)

Oct 25, 2006
Two weeks ago, I was going to post about how I lost my breath. When I first started meditating, the breathing techniques came so easily to me I was sure I was doing something wrong. But then, I'd sung in the choir and performed on the stage and played a wind instrument in the marching band since I was in middle school, and all that teaches you how to breathe. Eventually I realized that the mental space I was in when performing had more than a little resemblance to the mental space meditation was supposed to get me into.

But two weeks ago, I had finally sorted out my work schedule and realized that I had, at the same time, lost my meditation schedule, but when I sat down to meditate, I couldn't catch that deep breath. A proper deep breath comes from your diaphram, feels like it's coming from all the way in your gut, and I couldn't get my breath down past the middle of my chest. I felt like I was suffocating myself. I had to stop. I knew it was most likely just stress and tension, but it scared me anyway.

Last week I was going to post about how I got my breath back. How I sat down at work one day and took a deep breath and it really was a deep breath and it was like opening my eyes again. All of the sudden I could feel the world moving again, despite the awful weather and the stress of work and of still trying to settle in a new city, and I couldn't wait for Samhain, when all of Madison parties for my favorite holiday.

Last weekend was supposed to be wonderful. My parents were coming up, we'd finally have all the furniture we needed for the apartment, we'd go out and have dinner at the pub and relax and it would be a great time. They came up Saturday, and Saturday night we got a phone call that my grandmother was being rushed into surgery. They didn't know what was going on, but she was 81 years old and having major organ failure, so they were pretty sure they had a good idea. There was talk of her living will and trying to find her pastor and the phrase "what happens next" was uttered without anybody being able to move on past that phrase. I saw my dad cry for the first time in thirteen years, when his father died.

It's funny how the ICU waiting room seems to turn into a family reunion. After all, you get a bunch of people together you don't see that often; my cousins were there, and my cousin's two-year-old son, and it's hard to cry all the time with a two-year-old running around the room. So instead we talked about kids and grandkids and everybody's lives, and we laughed much more than we cried, and it never felt like disrespect. I know my grandmother wouldn't think so.

But as one of my sister's friends said, "Your grandma's badass! She has to get better." And she did. Sunday night, as the new moon turned to waxing, instead of going into cardiac arrest like they suspected, she regained some organ function and was actually conscious; they drove her up to a bigger hospital and started treating her like a sick person instead of a dying person. This morning she was conscious and communicating, and she tells the doctors she isn't in pain. Eighty-one or not, my grandmother isn't old. She's the matriarch of our family, and we are incredibly lucky to keep her a little while longer. (Besides, a funeral on Hallowe'en would have been quite poetic -- and we all know how the Universe hates being poetic.)

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