Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)
By Sarah Elisabeth
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This realization did not come in a thunderous boom from the heavens. It did not come with any speed at all. It came in the days and years that drained my clear vision into a haze unable to see beyond the foot of my bed. It came with my failed hearing that could scarce discern the tone of a voice, and with the dumbness set in on my tongue. It came with the vanished hope of knowing an answered prayer again.
I am left with nothing to do except breathe. In. Out. In. Out. My only desire is to take the next breath as my last.
When my nurse in the Home, Karen, patted my shoulder as she rolled me onto my side I could almost feel God’s presence still near. But Karen had disappeared long ago. No one pats my shoulder or speaks to me when they administer a shot or change my bedding. They have forgotten I am still a person. So has God.
Sometimes I wish for enough vision to see the wall that is covered with portraits of family my mind’s eye can no longer visualize. But for what purpose? The children in the pictures now have children I’ve never seen. No family has visited in years. They have forgotten I’m still alive. So has God.
I breathe. Another night passes into morning.
A squeaky voice fills the drainage in my ear. I struggle to focus my eyes on the speaker. Young faces crowd near my bed and one child slides something onto the medicine cart always constant by my side.
“Merry Christmas!” the voices sing out.
Christmas? I breathe and they are near enough for me to see their uncertainty at the gurgle of my sucking intake. They wave as each backs away and vanishes from my sight. All but one.
I no longer discern age well, but I see this girl as older than the others. She moves close to my side and extends her hand to cover mine. She squeezes with the tenderness found between a mother and her infant.
The warmth from her hand flows through my body as a tingle spreads to my toes. It is then I realize she is speaking. I catch bits of her sentence.
“My……is Cindy. I saw……label outside your door……name is Ruth Anderson. I hope it’s……call you Ms. Ruth.”
She stops there and I fear she will leave. I never want her to release my hand. I find the strength to apply pressure with two of my fingers. Cindy smiles and begins to circle her thumb over the wrinkles of my spotted skin. The action bunches it together in a roll then smoothes it as fine as a baby’s. I almost forget to breathe. My chest vibrates in effort to capture air.
“I need to catch……with the others……Ms. Ruth. But first……okay if I pray……you?”
Bless this child. Her study of my face for signs of comprehension stirs my heart to life. I struggle to convey with my eyes what tongue cannot.
Our eyes connected, Cindy nods her head before bowing it. “Dear God, I……Ms. Ruth up to You. I don’t………she faces everyday but You do. I pray…………she needs now will be fulfilled…….Lord, please help her……know You have not forgotten her……… why You sent us here today. In Jesus name. Amen.”
As Cindy hugs me, pats my shoulder and promises to come see me again, I realize that breathing is not the only thing left I can do. I can still cry.
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