Yesterday, I provided a link to a posting from last year on asthma and how I learned to “tough it out” and “distract myself.” Some of you may have had the time and/or the inclination to read that posting. If so, thank you.
Perhaps, however, your blogging schedule makes following links impossible, even though you might want to. So for you, here’s a brief synopsis: I was born with asthma. During my first five years, mom and dad rushed me to the hospital six times. I almost died four times. From kindergarten through third grade, I missed three months out of each school year because of asthma attacks. All that changed in the fourth grade.
So much for the synopsis. Now I’d like to share with you one of my most cherished childhood memories.
Toward the end of second grade, Grandpa Ready died, I learned to tell time, my mother shared her philosophy with me at a funeral parlor, and my father tried to murder my mother in the kitchen. All of this I’ve chronicled in the past few weeks.
The upshot was that my spirits sagged. I was afraid to whine because my parents might leave me again. Asthma always lurked, ready to keep me in bed for as long as a week. I’d miss school and struggle to breathe with my chest feeling as if a sitting giraffe weighed it down. And sure enough, I had an asthma attack in mid-May.
During one of those May days, I was lying in my parent’s double bed. I’d made a tent of my knees and pulled the blanket over the tent, my chest, and my head. Beneath the blanket, I gazed at my tented legs and saw them as a futuristic city with spaceships flying under my knees and over my thighs. I imagined Flash Gordon navigating with me. We swooped the city’s towering buildings. Like them, we scraped the sky.
A Flash Gordon comic strip.
All this imagining helped me distract myself from the coughing. The breathing. The wheezing. But then suddenly all the symptoms grabbed hold of me. I panicked, unable to distract myself or even to tough it out. I felt as if I were drowning in the sea of my own lungs.
It was then that I experienced mystery.
Blue engulfed me. Enfolded me. I breathed in Blue. I became Blue.
“What does that mean?” you might be asking. I don’t know. I know only that I breathed the essence of Blue. It surrounded me. Like a river of peace it flowed through my pores.
I began to breathe easily. The wheezing ceased. My chest unburdened itself. The height and depth and breadth of Blue seeped into me. I knew Blue. I was known by Blue.
And ever after, even unto this day, whenever I have difficulty breathing I let myself sink into Blue. I rest there and my breathing finds its natural rhythm again. And I know that I’m not going to drown because I can’t draw or expel air. I’m going to live.
That mysterious gift didn’t change the frequency of the asthma attacks. For the rest of 1943 and the first seven months of 1944, I experienced them again and again. The difference was that I could enter Blue and rest there.
And so it was that when fourth grade began, I could set myself the goal of being at school each day. Blue was with me. It reminds me now of that line from one of the Starwars movies: “The force is with you.”
For me, Blue was the force that enabled me to breathe.
Comics and blue gradations from Wikipedia.