Ten. Twenty. Fifty. The number of times I catch myself holding my breath in one day. Forgetting to breath or just not able to remember the last breath. I don't know which. I notice it happening when I'm driving. I notice that I do it while setting up a photo. I even notice it while sitting doing nothing at my desk. It is like I am bracing myself for some sharp pain. Like that moment at the doctor's office when you know that you are about to be poked with a needle. You know it's coming. You know it's not life threatening, but you brace for the sting of it. Bracing for impact. That is what this feels like. I am bracing for the inevitable impact. Of what, I don't know. But my body is tensed and ready for it.
While I am bracing for whatever sharp pain to come, I've been picking at old wounds and letting my thoughts fester in my brain. Every thing makes my eyes prickle with tears. I saw a couple I know at work interacting with each other the way Chris and I used to and the memory of similar moments pierced my heart. I had to go wait out the pain of it in the stairwell. People in the office started a discussion about that baby with the genetic disease that keeps him from breathing on his own or even moving and I have to throw on my headphones and ignore it. I can see it from both sides. I've been on both sides. No one knows more than I do about that desperate feeling of grasping for any hope for some magical cure for a loved one. But I've also been ready to give up all the pain meds to ease suffering. I did not feel like throwing my two cents into this conversation.
But it is more than just the Chris part of things. That's always there. Dad has been gone for three years now. I only realized it after Facebook asked if I wanted to share a memory of the camping trip we were on when Dad died. I was camping when Dad died, not in the nursing home three hundred miles away, with him. Sure, I'd already said my goodbyes and written my Dad off. He hadn't been my Dad in months. I played it off as if I was honoring Dad more by participating in an activity that he always loved. It was a selfish move. I was there when they pulled the plug on Chris's Dad. I was there during Chris's final moments. I didn't want to watch another person die. There was nothing peaceful or spiritual about watching the life leave a person's body. At least not for me. So I disappeared into the woods and roasted marshmallows on a campfire.
Why the Hell was Dad in a nursing home so far away from any of us?!? I know the reasons why he was where he was and I understand that things moved too quickly to be choosey about distance. It doesn't make me fell less angry about it all or place blame. I feel the words 'never' and 'forgive' swirling around inside me. Not that there is anyone to blame for Dad's illness. No one poisoned him with Alzheimer's. I do blame myself for not being more involved or pushing for better information. I blame myself for trusting some of the information that came to me. All that doubt and anger causes me to roll my eyes at declarations from some that I can't image in a million years are authentic declarations. I have confrontations in my head, the words never passing my lips because it wouldn't make a difference. Nothing would change. I can't expect others to behave as I would or how I expect them to behave. I can only change how I chose to react to them.
Maybe holding my breath is the best reaction right now.