Dare to Breathe Again

We are at St. John’s.

One of Nathan’s dearest mentors has had a stroke, and he is visiting her in the ICU.

We have not been here since the day mom died, when the ambulance sent us to the wrong hospital because they were going to life flight mom from the accident scene to this hospital but then were not able to because of high winds and ice. We got all the way here before they sent us back to Pryor.

It was ironic, really, after spending so much time with mom at this place. Her pain management doctor was here, and she had her spinal surgery here, and her cardiologist was here. We spent a lot of time here together. Correction: she spent a lot of time here, while I spent a lot of time being sent around the corner for her Sonic drink.

I had to pray in church today, after a talk about the blessings of family history and temple work.

The last time I was asked to pray in church was the Father’s Day after my father died.

I really need to work on my timing.

All the men sang at church today, and it was my first time to experience that when one of those men was mine. Not mine in a possessive way, but in a belonging way. It was powerful, not just the men before us, but also their fathers and grandfathers and many spirits who joined in song in that ministering of angels way, most often talked about in temple dedications. I cried.

The crying is settling down. Pregnancy and miscarriage do weird things to a girl, especially three times in a row with the death of a mother in the middle of it. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get through the prayer without crying, but maybe that’s why Heavenly Father asked me to do the prayer today: so I could say thank you, and mean it.

Really, because no matter how hard it is, I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. A mother would do anything for her child, and a daughter would do everything for her mother, and that’s where I find myself right in the middle but without any of them.

This week is my follow-up appointment, including with the oncologist. I feel fine, so am not worried about any cancer, but we will do the lab work and get my tumor markers and see if my levels have gone down any. They have held steady for a year instead of going down, but holding steady is better than going up.

In the meantime, I pray, and fast, and cling to promises that I know are true. I learn more about obedience, soften a little each day, and keep trying to become a little more like the daughter (and wife and mother) He calls me to be.

My words are still stuck, but becoming tangible. I try to write, but there is so much grief to wade through that it seems wrong to burden anyone else with it. I do not object to the grief, but acknowledge my meager efforts at processing so much of it so quickly. I know it will continue to settle, and I know a greater peace will come after the temple work is done.

It is a time of specific lessons, and they are painful. But as I sit quietly, a peace falls, and I am taught. Only tears like these can soften a soul, and this humbles me with gratitude. My circumstances cannot be changed by use of my agency, but I can use my agency to choose my response to each experience in such a way that I understand my circumstances differently.

That’s why I am happy, even when I am sad.

It is not a fake Pollyanna happiness, and not a superficial layer without substance.

It is a knowledge of truth, and a faith in things that can only sometimes be seen, and a belief that there is wise purpose in all things.

That’s what teaches me to receive, instead of fight against it.

That’s what transforms my fighting into endurance, and what holds me firmly in place when I am too weak to hold on any longer.

That’s what gives me air, even when it stings to be here in this place.

This is the place, symbolically, where I lost a mother and a child. It is a place of waiting, a place of meeting the limits of mortality. But it is also a place of tenacity, a place of healing. It a place of new birth, and a place of miracles.

Faith always comes before the miracle, and so I sit in this storm and brave the winds. I let the rain be my tears, and the wind be my breath, and the debris of what is not-of-God blow away from me.

That’s the place of faith, the moment of suffocating darkness when you are left alone with yourself and know that you can only breathe by the air God gives.

That’s the moment of faith, when you believe He will do what He has promised.

That’s the moment you act in faith, and dare to breathe again.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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