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Breathtaking: Finding The Beauty In This Breathless Life

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This life I've been gifted? It's breathtaking.

I feel it when I first awaken in the morning and as my first steps of the day kiss the cool wooden floor. I feel it when I bound quickly up our steps without thinking of the consequences when I get to the top. I feel it when I step outside and the cool crisp Fall air drenches my lungs. I feel it when laughter erupts from the deepest parts of my soul. I feel it when my present brushes against my past and sparks a familiar current of worry -- quickening the beat of my heart. I feel it within the first innocent signs of the changing seasons.

I feel it when my heart is overwhelmed with emotion and it feels as if there's an insurmountable weight pressing down upon my chest. I feel it within every meaningful embrace that lingers an extra second. I feel it in the overwhelming beauty that surrounds me and when its life-sustaining gratitude consumes me.

Give and Take
The day is new and morning's light is pouring through the windows. I take a few thoughtful deep breaths, letting the oxygen pour through my aching body -- taking note of each muscle and just how stiff my lungs feel today. I roll onto to my side and lie still for a moment, letting all that has settled in my chest over night begin to shift. I lie there for a bit thinking about the day ahead, searching for the inner spark that will set my steps ablaze for the day. I breathe deeper and more thoughtfully through the piercing pain of my rigid heavy lungs, and I am reminded that cystic fibrosis is ever-present and vying to steal every breath that I am given. It reminds me that this beautiful life is borrowed and each breath I am given is a gift. It reminds me that this life I have been gifted is truly breathtaking.

As the morning sunshine pours through my med-room window, I strap myself into my therapy VEST to fight for another day. Rays of pure sunshine pour through the wooden blinds and illuminate the room in a soft golden light. Warm beams of hopeful light cast shadows across the floor in front of me and across my face. Something catches my eye this morning as I vigorously shake and inhale a dense cloud of medicine into my lungs. Within the beams of sunlight I can see every breath swirling about on the misting air from my nebulizer, billowing upon every exhalation. The very thing that fills me with life dances upon each hopeful ray of sunlight. The beauty is breathtaking while painfully reminding me of the reality that is my life. I take a deep breath, giving it back to the world that so graciously gives me another.

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Beautifully Breathless
My hand clenches my chest as the weight of this life and what it all truly means consumes me. The love, generosity, and kindness shown by my dearest friends, family, and complete strangers is truly breathtaking. Overwhelming emotion and gratitude envelop my lungs, pushing out every last drop of air leaving me breathless. But for a moment I don't need to breathe, I am enlivened by the gratitude and goodness that fill my life.

When I think of my life it's truly breathtaking, but it is not the life-stealing CF that that leaves me breathless. It's the life-giving and awe-inspiring beauty that dwells within every breath that I am given. It's the presence of unspoken love and the deepest friendships. It's that life-giving hug that holds on for an extra moment because of a fear it might be the last. It's the hope we all share for another tomorrow and fighting together. It's the act of truly living. It's a breathtaking beauty that gives life but never takes it.

I choose to embrace this breathtaking life with my arms and heart wide open, CF and all. From when I wake in the morning to when I close my eyes at night I will forever be grateful, whatever those moments may hold. The gratitude for every breath and the people that make up my life can never be adequately described with words. My gratitude can only be lived, one beautiful breathtaking moment at a time.