Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Heart Needs a Rescue Inhaler

I swept the floors yesterday.

Making a bold statement like this and putting it out there on the Internet for all to see might seem like bravery to some. But to the vast majority, it will probably elicit a response something between the extremes of "...so...?" and "OHMERGAWDAMANTHATDOESHOUSEWORK." (Parenthetically, as a stay at home dad, I actually do most of the cooking and cleaning. If my sweeping excites you, I can only imagine your ecstasy at discovering I clean the bathtub on a regular basis.)

But for me, sweeping the floors stands a milestone because of the emotional turbulence of the past few weeks.

It's something routine.

And "routine" is something that has been sorely missing since March began and my mom died.

When I shared the story of my exuberant broomwork experience with a friend, they made a remark which just cried out for an internal editor to have redlined out before they could utter it:

"Well, I'm glad to see you're getting over it and things are getting back to normal."

Insert awkward silence in our conversation.


I have asthma. I've had it since I was a kid. Growing up in Mississippi in the 1970s/1980s, though, asthma wasn't something that was routinely diagnosed. "Seasonal allergies" is what my wheezing and struggle to breathe would be filed under, and my pediatrician (whose surname should have been Mengele) and my parents both hoped I would just grow out of it. It wasn't until college (!) that I was given the most beautiful gift of health imaginable: a little red tube with a cylinder of life inserted in it.

Unlike my wife (and Kai), my asthma has never been so extreme that it required multi times a day monitoring and inhaling. It comes and goes. It strikes without warning. No, I don't know what can trigger it. Yes, there are some obvious things - pollen, cut grass, animal dander - which can and often do require me to give my lungs that little extra oomph needed to get through it until my body regulates itself. You don't simply "get over" having asthma.

But it's something which has been with me my whole life, and will never leave fully.


"Normal" is never going to be the state my life will be in again. Ever. If things were "normal," then my sons wouldn't have to rely just on photographs to know what their grandparents - my parents - looked like. If things were "normal," I'd have two more people to get frustrated with because they would lavishly shower both of them with toys and trinkets they have no need of - because that's what grandparents do. If things were "normal," my mom and dad would still be here on this side of Paradise.

Things can get routine again. And they will.

But never "normal."

I'm going to go about my days throughout the rest of my life, and at some point, something's going to trigger tears. Heartache. A need to mourn. No, I don't know what will trigger it. It will come and go. It will strike without warning. Yes, there are some obvious things - holidays, photo albums, milestones in my life and my kids' lives - which will require me to give my heart that little extra oomph needed to get through it until my soul regulates itself.

But this hole in my life is going to stay with me, and will never leave me fully.

I'm not going to grow out of either things which will cause my lungs and heart to constrict and make me struggle to find words and catch my breath.

Things can get routine again. And they will.

I just have to keep puffing away.

1 comment:

Sara said...

Thanks for sharing that. Praying for you and your family.