THE BLOG
11/23/2016 03:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Betraying Breath : Living In The Uncertainty Of A Chronic Illness

All it takes is but a single breath for life to become so very real. In a single breath the heaviness of life and its fragility can pour into the depths of the soul. In a single breath lives a reality that is unchangeable, unfair, and heartbreaking. Within a single breath lives my very truth from which I so often times am on a quest to outrun. A truth that every breath I am given does not come without cost or heartache. A truth that is blended amidst quiet embers of fear waiting to ignite into a consuming blaze - waiting silently to steal that very breath and this life I love.

Betrayal in a Single Breath
Without conscious thought I take a breath and without a second thought give it back to the world. I take another. But this one is familiarly different.

I feel a catch as the air pours into my lungs and I grip onto the very breath that knowingly has given me this moment. My mouth fills with a taste I've tried to erase from my mind. My heart sinks and every breath I've taken for granted suddenly finds its weight and meaning within my chest. As I rush to the bathroom I already know within that single breath lies the truth I wish I could extinguish. The bright white porcelain of my sink a glaring contrast next to the truth of this life with cystic fibrosis - a truth painted in the most vibrant and unforgettable color of red. The color of blood.

As I clench the sides of the sink with my fingers, a flood of past memories surge through my body. A million thoughts run through my mind and with each breath comes a familiar burning in my throat and the desperate unanswerable questions that ceaselessly accompany this life with CF. I look up and catch my reflection in the mirror - only to be met by the deafening pleas of heartache present in my eyes. The heartache that dwells within the unassuming beauty of the season of Fall. The heartache I know all too well from past Novembers. The heartache that solely belongs to the feeling that my own body is betraying me and all I am. A heartache and betrayal that would only deepen as the episodes of coughing up blood would persist through the week.

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Ceaseless Hope
But in that heartache and betrayal also lies an undeniable truth and the reminder of the gift that is alive in every single breath that I am given. Within that heartache and betrayal shines the fragility of life and a truth from which I will never be able to hide. In that heartache lies a reminder of all I've been through, what it means to truly live, and a truth built upon unyielding hope. But most of all, it is a reminder that CF is fused to every breath that gives me life. So, with my pleading eyes I stare back at myself in the mirror and whisper the words, "just one breath at a time." I cannot change this life with CF but what I can do is graciously take every breath as it comes to me - knowing it can all change in a single breath. So, I wait for this November to pass while embracing this season of Fall - breathing into every single breath a ceaseless hope that may smother the smoldering embers of fear caused by CF.

I take this life as it comes to me - one beautiful breath at a time. For within this single breath lies not only heartache caused by CF but the culmination of every beautiful moment, every burst of life-giving laughter, every loving embrace, and an immeasurable gratitude for it all. Within this single breath is this life lived beyond all odds - drenched in uncertainty, relentless hope, and endless beauty. I have learned through each season and through past Novembers to take each breath as it may come - clinging to an uncompromising gratitude for every breath that sustains me and ceaselessly believing in the hope of tomorrow.