It is a conundrum I carry with me. It infiltrates my thoughts, creeping into every crevice creating ripples of fear that billow around my mind like smoke from a chimney, causing my breath to catch and me to gasp for air.
Which is where the conundrum lies.
Each breath is fear-laden yet, to dissipate fear, I must breathe. Slowly. Deeply. Steadily.
And I don’t want to. Breathe. At least not here, in a hospital where the air fellow humans have expelled could be laden with unwanted guests. Not in this place where my beloved has been resting and healing since New Year’s Day when a winter cold had turned to pneumonia necessitating medical intervention.
My mind scurries around ‘What if…?’ with the slithery adeptness of a fish moving through water.
What if that molecule of air I cannot see is rife with poisonous particles? What if my next breath draws in unwanted viral content eager to attach to my airways, its only mission to spread through my lungs?
What if…? I get infected and don’t know it and give it C.C. and… What if?
I imagine holding my breath. A long time. Like a looonnnnng time. And, even though I know it’s impossible and that in that one breath the undesirable is possible anyway, I catch myself standing outside the sliding doors of the hospital taking a deep, deep breath.
I hold it for as long as I can and exhale.
And take another, letting the power of breathing calm my jagged fears, soothe my worried mind.
And I walk in. Mask in place. Sanitizing my hands at every possible station. Keeping my distance from everyone I meet. As I step onto the elevator and use my elbow to press the button for his floor, I keep my mind busy with thoughts of well-being, chanting silently to myself words I learned years ago in a meditation class, “I walk in beauty now. Beauty lies before me. Beauty lives above me, behind and below me.”
And I walk into my husband’s room, calm of mind, gentle of heart, letting the smile behind my maskt be visible in my eyes. I greet him with a kiss blown from a safe distance and sit down at the edge of his bed for a leisurely visit.
Perhaps my fearless presence will remind this pernicious bacterial visitor who has taken up residence in C.C.s lungs that only love is welcome here.