Saturday, July 6, 2013

Breathing Deep

I used to think it sounded so cool, that phrase, “born again.” I know most people hear “born again” and think of Christianity and salvation and rites of passage, I did, too. And when I prayed the salvation prayer, I passionately believed I was truly living for the first time.

But, I had a secret and a sadness and neither of them would leave me alone in my new life. For 14 years the secret and the sadness followed me around like pathetic strays, and because I was a pathetic stray myself, I fed them to keep their company and starved myself.

My dark night of the soul lasted half of my life time. I had to look death in the face of her half bald head over a hospital sink and choke on life support before I realized that I was not living, not even a little bit.

When a baby is born, it cries. It’s alive, but, that first breath, that first expansion hurts. I guess I spent a good bit of my life afraid of that first breath, and perhaps that’s why I fooled myself into thinking I was already alive for all of those years.

It’s a lot of work being born, and it took me a long time to be ready to take that first breath. I was scared of the pain, of all that was unknown before me, of life without my strays. I wasn't sure I had what it took to live a successful life, or even just a life that didn't get in anyone’s way. But there I was, being wheeled out of the hospital, going into treatment, euthanizing my strays, holding a job, learning to eat, running for joy, and doing the very best I could to live.

Six years ago today, I woke up from a coma, came off of artificial life support, and started making my way through.

This sixth year has been the hardest in my recovery. It’s no longer new to me; the novelty of it has worn off. Now, recovery is hard work, attentiveness, intentionality, and honesty. Sounds a lot like living, doesn't it? While I am so grateful that is true, it is still hard, in the midst of a year that feels like great loss in community and faith, to not long for my strays.

And I realize this year hurts because in losing, I’m taking my first breath. And coming to life hurts.

On this gift of a day, I acknowledge the pain of what was and let it pass, and breathe deep this new life, expanding my lungs with the unknown and the possibilities.

Tomorrow morning, I will run a race, at the end of which my closest friends will be waiting. I really hope I kick the races ass and get the PR I'm hoping for...but if I don't? There will be another race...


  1. Congratulations! What an amazing story, and I for one, am so happy you're here, and part of this community. I hope every day you feel a little bit stronger, and more alive :)

    1. Thank you so much! It really is the running community that keeps me going strong and reminds me who I am. There are hundreds of stories like mine, and running has been what's brought health and healing. Thank YOU for all the encouragement and for sharing your story!