Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Breathe...

One of my best and dearest friends came up for the weekend. I've known Jenni since we were both in the 5th grade. She's seen me at my best and worst and all the awkward phases in between. When we're together, it's as though the clock rolls back and we're those dirty kids playing in the mud again.

We laughed. We talked. We stayed up late into the night watching movies and playing games. We went for walks in the woods and explored the leaf-littered landscape. It was a balm that I didn't know I needed. The cancer diagnosis aged me a hundred years. This weekend gave me back those years that were taken in an instant.

Of all the many hundreds of pictures taken throughout the long weekend, this is one of the few that I'm going to share. It's not for lack of quality material. Some really stunning images were captured. But I do not want to diminish the importance of this moment.

I stood on top of Wolf Rock, surrounded by mountain laurels, rhododendrons, and painterly red sumac. The valley, lit up by autumn, stretched out before me. The hike had winded me and exhausted me far more than I let on to my accompanying party. I stood on the rock, looking out before me and the breath was taken from me in a different way...

For what seems like the first time in a long time, I exhaled. When I heard the cancer diagnosis, a breath hitched in my lungs. It wasn't a conscious thing. It was an involuntary instinct. I held it there and it held me up. I inflated myself with this battered breath. I walked around with it trapped in my chest, a silent source of terrible strength. I laid out on the table, as they cut me and cinched my flesh with staples, and still I held on to it hard. And in the days afterwards, worrying and fretting over bills and missed deadlines and unanswered emails and backlogged chores... I held it in until my chest seemed like it'd almost burst.

And then I stood on what seemed like the top of the world and I let go. In the face of boundless beauty, I released the breath I had been holding tightly.

We laughed and joked on our way back to the car, but I fell silent at times, marveling on what it was like to breathe again.

20 comments:

Marcia DeCoster said...

that's an amazing photo and you captured it in words perfectly. I'm so glad you can breathe again.

Julianna Cannon said...

Your use of words is on par with with the beauty of your spirit.

Breathe deeply and know that everything happens with intent.

Sabine said...

Andrew - your writing moves me to tears. I am so glad that things came out clear.

Ann

taralinda said...

How Beautiful...
Air to breathe and a sweet friend.
Happy to see you back~

Emerald Window said...

It's an awesome feeling, isn't it.
Cenya

Until We Bead Again, Beth Murr said...

I am an RN in critical care. I am always telling my patients, "Don't forget to breathe. It is very important that you breathe." I'll never say it again without thinking of you. Thanks for reminding me to breathe. I needed that more than you will ever know.
Until We Bead Again, Beth

Courtney said...

I am happy that you were able to let it go. That can be very, very hard. You sound like you are on the mend. I will continue to send happy, healing thoughts to you. Have a good week.

AuntieAnnie said...

A beautiful message and time with a cherished friend. I am so glad you are healing, both emotionally and physically.

Anne said...

This is good news! You are well on the road to recovery.

Alice said...

Isn't it wonderful to have a friend like Jenni? I suspect she was just the tonic you needed.

What a great photo of you-probably my favorite so far. You painted us a lovely picture of Wold Rock and the valley cloaked in the colors of autumn.

It's nice to see you back.

Raida said...

Beautiful photograph. I'm so glad your healing and that you're well on your way to recovery!

Spirited Earth said...

Breath,
so important and you've expressed it so beautifully

Rachel said...

"I ask the Universe to provide for me that which I need" She provided Jenni and the weekend. Be well Andrew...

Kinderhook said...

OMG! Your writing takes MY breath away. That was just so beautiful, Andrew! Wow. --SallyA

Kristen said...

I know what that feels like and you put words to that feeling with perfection!

Janet said...

Been thinking about you alot and wondering how you really were. Just what the Dr ordered your friend was a much needed balm..soothing to the soul and yes a big exhale. Relax and do everything when you can..take this time for you ox

Rebecca said...

SO glad you are breathings again....nothing like fresh air to clear the lungs. Forget the deadlines and emails - relax and enjoy the beauty of nature and loving friends around you.

Pretty Things said...

I'm glad you had this chance!

Jean said...

Jenni rocks! I understand why you have stayed friends so long! xox jean

HappyDayArt! said...

I love that photo!

Catherine