Clearly, she needs help.
It’s a frightening situation.
Libby’s nurse just completed her shift and placed Libby safely in her chair in our front room.
Shortly after 25-year-old twin sister Abby calls me on her cell phone, “Mom, something is not right with Libby. Come quick.”
My home office is ten steps from our back door.
I leap, and arrive quickly. Abby remains calm while I pick up Libby and hold her on my lap. She is stiff, unbendable like an effigy without hinges.
“You are right Abby, something is not right.” I breathe Libby onto my lap and listen. Her breath is labored — wheezing as if her trachea or esophagus are squeezing closed.
I breathe more, feeling my breath mold Libby’s body into mine. I remember that she is a person—who loves my singing. I sing softly while I listen and feel. I see and smell a heavy coat of cream on her face and throat. I wonder?
I remember that her nurse said she put strong sunscreen on her in preparation for our walk together.
I ask Abby to bring me the bottle of sunscreen. I can’t read the ingredients, the print is too small. I know it did not come from our local Herb Room.
I suspect this is the problem. Is she having an allergic reaction?
I stay in the question, in my belly breathing her body — calm, slowly singing her softly with safety.
Her eyes are locked on mine.
I wash the sunscreen off her body.
The wheezing and rigidity are decreasing. In time her breathing is normalizing. I feel her breathe in her belly, her muscles relaxing.
A smile appears on her lips. She is back.
It is dinner time. She isn’t very interested in food until I bring out her favorite elderberry tofu pie.
I savor this moment of cream seeping out the corners of her mouth.
I push her in her stroller along the coast. The gentle breeze on our skin, the songs of birds singing where I left off. The orangy-red sun setting behind the blue sea, reminding us of another day well spent.
Listening, breathing, connecting in places that might otherwise trigger fear.
‘Well done’ echoes from beneath our feet.
This is the hug of the love from our great mother supporting us to value the care we give to others and ourselves.
Today I am reminded of the poem Grandmother by Sarah Rivard:
“Love all of it.
It is our only true purpose:
To love bravely in the face of vulnerability and danger;
To agree to this dance on this ice.
Trust that life is tending to the opening of our hearts.
She does this through tiny blessings,
through everyday beauty
and through violent breaking…
Yes to love,
even with the sharp shadow of loss at our heels.
Yes to forgiveness and compassion…
let your heart open…”