I have long viewed life as temporarily precious, stepping over the starting point and finish line, simultaneously. I was born with a sense of urgency–the ticking of the human clock resounding in all of my senses. In the stagnant air of time, I’ve felt a curious urgency. I came into this world, knowing that I am fortunate to be alive.
From the beginning, I felt my humanity to be tenuously confusing; yet full of everlasting beauty and joy. The duality of the night and day–within myself, and others–was to me a mystical mystery. In every other soul, that shares this human consciousness, I could see the reflection of myself experiencing every form of existence. Although I was born with a thin veil, I did not truly feel the brunt force of this truth, until I entered into the fourth decade of this human experiment.
In conversation with a fellow warrior sister, she insisted that I reflect on this very matter. “Do you realize that it is a miracle that you are alive?”she asked. Well, yes, I knew that to be a matter of fact–as my entire lifetime had been a monumental struggle to stay alive. In that pausing moment of awareness, for the first time, I could actually feel what she meant. It hit deep within my chest and consciousness, that place where only truth can reside.
I was then flooded with the awareness that my very existence was clearly a reflection of universal love and grace. Suddenly, I felt a deep breath exhale from within, and my lungs filled with oxygen, as if I had just broken the ocean’s surface . . . I was alive and breathing . . . I had survived!
I had embarked on a journey a couple of years prior–that for all intent and purposes–was certain death. This reality was the climatic collision of events and forces that had been unfolding, and building momentum for decades.
The weight of that decision had, with brunt force, sucked the air from my lungs. I had been holding my breath, since the realization that there was no longer any time left.
The waters had risen to my nose, in the sinking ship of my life. My only choice left was to take a deep breath-in, and swim, in hopes of finding a pocket of fresh air. The faint glimmer of the distant surface–the only guiding light. There was no denying that this was absolutely the point of no return, and my entire body burned with a deep ache to inhale fresh air. I had to make a move, regardless of the unknowing fear, that I may not be able to find the surface of this ocean . . .
I had been adrift upon for all of these years. The denial that I had found safety and shelter from the storm, in the cabin of this floating vessel, now a burning cold realization of my current state of being. I felt the rising water encapsulating my body, alerting my soul that I was lost at sea, and trapped inside of a sinking ship.
The water crashed onto my shoulders, as I lay in a rusted and chipped porcelain tub, full of water, struggling to breath. The sounds of the industrial corn mill buzzing outside of the bathroom window. In a fit of convulsions, I looked down to see a rising mass hemorrhaging out from between my breasts. I had been having convulsions for days, and my breathing had continued to become more labored with each day.
From the cordless phone, I placed a desperate call to another warrior sister, a few states away. Though, I felt the edge of a panicked hysteria creeping in, I knew I had to stay calm and try to figure out what to do. I felt a blazing pressure from within my chest as a deep pressure smothering my lungs. My body violently trembling as I suffocated on the air of the stale bathroom.
The force of the blow awoke within me a primal sense of self-preservation, as the will to survive completely overcame each cell of my body. “Do you have a hiatal hernia?” the voice from the phone, echoed from the peeling paint on the walls. My head spinning, as I hit the bathroom floor; the musty filth of the carpet filled my nose, as vomit welled into my throat. Can you smell death? . . . I briefly wondered, as I found my footing to look for a lifeboat in the next room.
The puddle of tears that were stinging my eyes knew that there was no use in calling out for help. A dark sadness clouded my vision, with this lesson I had learned long ago: I knew that there was no cavalry coming, but this was not the time to cry, I chided to myself.
Grabbing a callously offered, small metal flashlight, I crammed it forcefully down into the middle of my chest. I could feel the cold stinging, as I forced the rising lump back down into the area of my diaphragm. The walls of the room began to close in around me as a cold and heavy weakness began taking over my limbs. I needed the wall to steady me, and I fought back the vomit welling up into my throat. My vision narrowed with faint black edges, as my vision began floating with golden dots. I was afraid to give in to the darkness, clouding my vision, struggling to keep myself awake and alert.
I began repeating a mantra that had offered me strength and comfort over the years: “Strong, healthy, vibrant, alive, strong, healthy, vibrant, alive.” I had declared these very words, many times in the past when I felt the breaking of my mind, body, and spirit. I kept my focus on the pain as it reminded me that, however surreal my current condition, I was still clinging to life.
With heavy force, I steadied the flashlight in place, over the once protruding area, and tightly wound an ace bandage around my chest. The tight pain continued to keep my breathing shallow and labored. The pain throbbed with a fiery heat, so hot, I felt as if my entire body were being set ablaze. I do believe that this was my first moment, as a whole person in this lifetime.
It was also, in this moment, that I knew the only way that I was going to survive was to play the inevitable game of Russian roulette. The only point of escape was to walk down the dark hallway before me. I could hear the whispering of the walls, “Dead woman walking,” they softly echoed.
I knew then that if I did make it to the other side, it was going to take a long time to be able to see the light again. I was going to have to walk into the darkness regardless of the fear, stinging each of my senses. As I stepped into the abyss, I could see the face of the executioner, that had been standing in the shadows. Holding a loaded pistol to my head, I knew that if I ever wanted a chance to live I was going to have to be willing to die.
“Just Breathe”, I whispered to the mounting panic within: “Stay Calm and Relax.” I felt as if I were standing frozen on railroad tracks, bracing for the moment of imminent impact. In the quiet calm space, I could feel the final execution, in that single moment of realization. There was only a small chance that the chamber would be empty when the trigger was pulled back to fire.
I had lost my mind and entire being to this darkness, long before it had come to claim my body. There was nothing left, nowhere to run, and no one left to turn to. The brutal reality, that there was no way to escape from this moment, filled every cell of my body with an exhilarating terror. The force of the fear exhaled a peaceful slumber into my heart and soul–and for the first time, I was ready to let go. I was done here, and even though I had no idea where I was going, I resolved to head full-on into the unknown direction ahead.
I took a brief and conscious moment to take one last look back, at what I was leaving behind. My prison had become my palace, filled with treasures that I would no longer be able to take along with me. I closed my eyes, to engrave the ones I loved, and had to leave behind, onto my heart.
I did not know if, or when, I would again see the light of their smiles. The love for all of us . . . tattooed onto my heart, was now my only possession–as I turned to stare down the barrel of the gun pointing squarely at my face. With a deep breath-in, I gave the executioner a nod of my head.
“I am ready,” I spoke with a deep exhale, as the sound of the trigger pin clicked back, the explosion in my head sounding like a detonating bomb. The deep eruption thrusting open my eyes, in a blinding burst of momentum, shoving me into a new realm of awareness. In the awakening, I could clearly see the wreckage of the burning rubble I had been standing upon. The shaking ground began to give in, with a deafening rumble.
The forces of evolution and adaptation colliding in a thunderous testimony of the will to survive. There is no time other than, right now, the present moment–no more time left to ponder a decision. I was going to have to fumble my way through this darkness, and trust that I would be able to fly away to freedom.
Summoning all the might I could gather, into my broken wings, I broke into a run before leaping from the edge of this fiery hell. The darkness carried a cold silence, I had once feared, but now appreciated. It was the promise of peace that moved my feet from the ground, jumping into the weightless abyss. My final declaration screaming into night….
“I am ready”!