Recovery - Step One: Nurture Something Good

I feel it mostly in my chest.

It builds and pushes against my ribs and upper back, threatening to burst open in flames and ash with each passing day. A deep inhalation releases the tension and shoots through my body with pokes and needles. My breath is the blood flowing to a limb that has been far too distant and deeply asleep; that limb is my voice pushed dormant by tragedy, depression and disappointment.

How many experiences does it take to lose your voice, to have it catch in your throat and burrow down in your heart like a dense and tiny mustard seed? How much time does it take before that same mustard seed cracks open, springing to life at even the smallest rays of hope? Like a whisper in my head, I hear an echo of someone saying that faith the size of a seed can rearrange landscapes. In faith I take that cracked seed in my hands and begin to nurture it toward germination, finding warmth - hope - in the belief that a mustard seed is enough. I am enough.

I take another breath in and with it the pokes and needles. Nothing brings me more into the present than my own breath. I close my eyes. My chest expands with a rush of air into the empty cavity around my heart. I feel the slight vibration in my throat and slight stretch of my ribs. The chair beneath me pushes against my body. My body centers and pushes back against the chair. Breath like blood flows into my body, an awakening, a baptism of my seed in tears, sweat and blood when water flees and dries up.

I read once that our breath forms Ham-Sa, Sanskrit for "I am." The inhale whispers Ham, the release vibrates Sa. Ham -pause- sa -pause- A primordial teeter-totter giving us strength as our lungs mingle the external atmosphere with our body and blood. I -pause- am -pause- ... I -pause- am -pause- ... I -pause- am -pause- enough, my mind fills in the pause between exhale and inhale. I -pause- am -pause- not damned. I -pause- am -pause- loved.

As Ham-Sa teeters up and down in my throat and my mind fills in the pauses, I feel something different well in my chest, close to my seed. It also teets and totters with my breath, bringing with it a refreshing rush like cool water, crisp mountain air, rain at the end of a long summer day. Lord Jesus Christ, it starts. Have mercy on me. Lord Jesus Christ inhale... Have mercy on me exhale...

Together the three part orchestra of my body, mind and heart builds a harmony, each part intricately woven into the other by the rhythm of expand and release. ...crescendo: Lord Jesus Christ, I ...diminuendo: am -enough-, have mercy on me. ...rest... Lord Jesus Christ, I ... am -loved-, have mercy on me. ...rest... Lord Jesus Christ, I ... am -not damned-, have mercy on me ...rest.

The music plays on. I see the first hint of growth pushing at the crack in my mustard seed: a very small lime-green fissure in the smooth yellow shell. My voice, timid, out-of-practice, and drowsy with the sleep of 11 months begins to emerge, pushing against my chest and back. Tragedy, disappointment and depression - I feel something stronger - recovery, forgiveness and grace. I am ready to start writing. I am ready to nurture something good.

That, for now, is enough.


Memory Eternal

Happy Birthday, my Uncle Tim.

Time doesn't heal yet. The shock of your death is gone and I know, with a sinking, heavy, trap-door feeling in the bottom of my heart that you are not coming back. I will never see you arguing with Todd at family holidays. We will never climb another mountain together, standing on top of the world and feeling alive. You will not be the reckless Sheriff of BANG! who blows himself up with dynamite in the second round. We will not go running, camping, boating. You will never approve or disapprove of the guys that may or may not choose to hang around.

No, time is making things worse, more real. I don't want to wake-up; I want to believe that our family gatherings will inexplicably pull you from your dark hiding like a moth to the light and you will suddenly be with us again. Instead, there is an underlying silence that was once filled with your laugh. A disjointed confusion sits in the room like a white elephant: elusive, blurry around the edges, and something that everyone feels but nobody wants to mention.

Staying asleep helps a little.

This week you have been in my dreams. Trembleys are on the family trip, trying to get on with life after your death. We do things, we cry, we fight with each other. Through it all, we know that you are dead. We board a boat and when I look back to check on my parents, you are there with your arm around aunt Kim. She is crying, looking at the ocean and thinking about you. You are holding her. Then you look at me. You turn and look at me and smile. You see me. and you smile.

I wake up thinking that regardless of what happens, if my dead uncle turns to me and smiles, perhaps I am not so worthless or despicable. This fight -through trauma, depression, rejection, and grief- could be worth the return of myself. I hear journeying from the afterlife is not done easily- much like the journeying through life. And yet you were there. Tangibly. Smiling.

I miss you. Happy Birthday.