There was a time last September when the cold lake water combined with my junked up lungs proved to be a near deadly combination. My three year old son wore a life jacket in the water, holding onto me. In hindsight, I realize I should have worn a life jacket too that day. As we waited in the water and the boat circled around, I began having an increasingly more difficult time treading water. And breathing got so hard. I felt like all of the air was gone every time I desperately tried to suck some of it in. It was a horribly scary feeling. Suffocating somehow yet out in the middle of a lake. I knew I could not go under water. For fear of not coming back up. In a short amount of time, I began feeling desperate. My three year old knew I was scared. I started pushing him off of me. I could not take the added weight of him holding onto me. Onto my lungs. My oldest sister, Anna, watched nervously from the boat. She knew my capabilities, my strength, and my ability to persevere. But she saw me struggling. She knew the kind of mother I am. She knew I would never push my child away from me. Unless I had to.
It’s a painful moment to remember and write about. I can still see his face. And feel him desperately grabbing for me and crying in the freezing September water. Scared. Cold. Sensing my fear. My older sister’s instinct kicked in, as it has so many times before. She jumped from the boat and swam out to me. She’s strong. Fierce. A protector. A mother to her own five children. And she also mothers the world. And that day, she mothered me and my son. I will never know for sure, but she may have saved my life.
Anna quickly swam out to my son and I. She took my son which helped me focus on getting to the boat that pulled up along side of us. I swam, rather doggy paddled to the boat. I held on to the side and did not, would not let go. I vividly remember stretching both arms towards the boat. Holding onto it. So relieved, breathing the hardest and best I could, yet I just could not catch my breath. I felt like I had never been so exhausted. And scared for my life. In my life.
Fast forward to today. I anxiously sat across from a community blood drive employee and pleaded with him to let me give blood. My lungs are doing great or else I wouldn’t be here attempting to give blood, I told him. They’re not flared up. I’m not having to do treatments. He called his supervisor. He has never met someone with “bronchiectasis.” My four year old son sat on my lap. The same son who was in the water with me that day. I wanted him to witness me being strong, healthy and humbly giving blood that may help save somebody’s life. Like the blood that somebody gave years ago that helped save my life when I was dying as an eighteen year old. I knew the employee was going to say I couldn’t give blood. And he did. It hurt. I carried my son as we walked to the car.
When you want so badly to do something and you can’t, that hurts. When you have a reason, a really meaningful reason why you want to do something, but you can’t because of a disease you have, it’s really difficult to accept. I will anxiously wait to hear back from New York to learn if I ever will be able to give blood. If you can give blood, even if you don’t want to, would you consider doing it for me? Or more importantly, would you do it for all the kids and adults who are too sick to ask you to give blood for them? Because you can. Because you won’t be denied. Because you’re healthy enough. Because you possess an abundance of life pumping through your beating heart, healthy lungs and body. Somebody else just needs a little. And like I tell kids every weekend when we do a blood draw, “the awesome and cool thing about your body is that it will make more blood.” Please donate.❤️