How did eating get to be so hard? It should be such a natural thing, shouldn’t it? It should be like breathing. Instead, I am holding my breath these days more than I should.
Well, it got to be hard on Sunday, six days ago, because we took me off the respirator. There was a mechanization to my eating. And while I was getting enough oxygen, I was stupidly choosing to take it all in at irregular intervals – taking the pain and suffering through the day to enjoy the high at night. That was not living, that was being hooked up to tubes and having my family, my world unable to connect with me. It took away my other functions, it took away my other natural things, like I wrote about yesterday.
It is so hard because we are reclaiming our lives, reclaiming each mother fucking breath in and breath out. They are chores, they are laborious. Each breath is its own mountain. Each bite of food, each acknowledgement of hunger, every midnight indulgence for a greater good (chocolate to greet my wife at the door, connecting after a hard day) – these are my mountains, these are my accomplishments, these are the breaths I take, that I take. But the toll these take… the toll is collapse-inducing, tear-jerking, and blindingly weakening. They are humbling, because it shows how truly weak and atrophied these parts of me have become.
I need the strength to fight through. I need to take the risk that I eat too much at breakfast or feel hungry two hours later and eat too much as a snack or eat dinner earlier than I planned or have a piece of chocolate at midnight or mistake being sick and exhausted for needing food, that my body will take care of it, that nature will take care of it. And if they don’t, that it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, because it will even out the next day, or the day before, or two days after. And if it doesn’t, that maybe I should be eating more often, more period, because that’s what my body and nature have been asking for. And if that’s not the case, my support system will be there, not with a respirator in hand, but with the love that will keep me breathing. Love that manifests in Mom and my wife preparing food to help me not struggle through cooking, magnificent vegan meals that taste so much better than they should (except for that weird rhubarb-cherry compote thing – sorry Mom). Love that manifests in attempts at understanding, my grandparents reading books and surfing websites to find recipes and knowledge that will help them make me feel at home when I stay over – when really, the actions of attempting to understand are truly what make me feel that there is nowhere less like home.
This is the strength that will keep me breathing, hard as it is and as weak as I have been and as mistaken as I will be, their love will help me keep breathing.