I read the prompt words on Lisa-Jo's page and tears spring to my eyes. Just yesterday, I sat creekside with Lisa-Jo. We watched our children play and I tentatively asked her about her mother. Tentatively, because I didn't want her to catch her breath in pain on that glorious spring day. Tentatively, because to ask, I would have to admit that I have heretofore skipped her posts about her mother. Tentatively, because if we are being honest, I just don't talk about cancer and dying. Not for the last 21 years.
I don't go there.
But yesterday, I asked. Because I wanted to understand more than I feared her answers.
I asked because because cancer is real and concrete and I cannot click away this time.
Deep breath. It brings tears to my eyes because I want so badly for Elizabeth to take a deep breath. I want to breathe breath into her. Instead, her breath catches. She uses precious breath to talk to my children via Skype, to encourage them, to ask about their days. And it's not just about knitting and little girls. It's big teenaged boys on the brink of adulthood, who escape to a quiet corner and talk to this kind woman, the woman who breathes life and hope into others even as she struggles for deep breath. My children--the ones who have never watched a movie where the mother dies, because I have long worked to keep them from knowing that such things even exist. (Yes, I am aware that this is a bit crazy.) I have brought Elizabeth into their lives because I have learned that love is well worth the risk of pain. And we love her. Truly, truly love her.
She wills herself to breathe so that she can mother her five dear children with all her heart and all her might. She breathes gentleness and joy into their every minute, knowing that every minute matters. She worries about how to allocate breath so that she can accomplish the most important things.
It's not cancer that has robbed breath. It's chemotherapy.
First, do no harm.
She must breathe. Must.
And we? Who love her? We hold our breath, waiting to know what comes next.
What will I do with my every breath today?