Three years ago, I posted an essay called, “An Exhale.” That story went on to be published in two nonfiction anthologies which can be found here and here —publications for which I’m not only proud, but grateful to have had the opportunity to share with others the potential catastrophe that hurricanes can bring: not just environmentally but emotionally and mentally as well.
Fast forward to today and I’m spending my morning dragging things inside, tieing others down, and cutting down heavy branches that look like they might be vulnerable in the hurricane-force winds that are headed this way from Laura. Although when I think of it, isn’t everything vulnerable in hurricane-force winds? Isn’t everything and everyone vulnerable all the time? I read once somewhere that you’ll walk past, on average, 16 murderers in your lifetime.
I also think that in the state of the world, we haven’t had that opportunity to really….like really….exhale in a long time. Doesn’t it feel like every morning we’re waking up, tensing our chests and trying to breathe through stress that just will not relent? We’re all walking around without closure on anything or sometimes not even solid ground and instead, are collectively stuck in an emotional fight or flight loop and thinking that we are somehow failing because we’re not operating at 100% all the time on this whirly-dirly, puke-inducing, uninspected and not-up-to-code carnival ride with extra spooky clowns trying to convince us they’re not terrifying even though they really, really are?
I don’t write much about Little Foot anymore for the sake of his privacy but I would give anything to hold his little hand and sing the ABCs with him, hearing the excitement and pride in his voice that he’s got this alphabet thing. I’m the alphabest.
That exhale will come. It will. Little ones may have to suffice for now. Little ones that give your shoulders, your jaw, and your brow a break.
Until then, I love you. Extra love to my gulf coast family. Stay safe.
Reblogged this on A Donkumentary and commented:
“An Exhale” is one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written (so I’ve reblogged it a few times now). I go back and read it often, remembering the gravel road, the tinkle of the dog’s collar, and the rush of relief and grief that hit me all at once. I remember Little Foot’s little voice and the feeling of his small hand in mine.
Today and to me, this story still holds up (which I’m not sure is a good or bad thing). There have been too many senseless last exhales for so many who didn’t deserve it. It’s painful and overwhelming to think about.
If you need it, when I’m feeling crushed by…well…*gestures broadly at everything*, and I actually remember to do it, I place one hand over my heart and one on my belly. I pull in a breath as deep as it will go, hold it for 3…2…1…and then exhale slowly and thoughtfully. It helps for a second at least. Maybe it will help you, too.
I love you,