First Last Breath

I don't remember my first breath. The first time my weak lungs sucked in the fresh air of a world outside. But I do remember the first time I stopped breathing. I remember the darkness entombing my six year old body as I drifted into sleep. I remember the breathless crying, the panicked heaving of my lungs. I remember the lumbering creaks of the stairs as my dad came to see what was wrong. I remember him turning on the lights, my eyes screaming as loudly as my lungs from the burst. I remember his anxious yelling down to my mom and her frantic attempts to calm me. I remember her wrapping me in a blanket, rubbing my back, whispering soft words into my ear. I remember the car speeding over bumps, tossing my body into my mothers as she hugged me tightly, not wanting to let go of her little girl. I remember the suffocating white of hospital walls and waiting for ten minutes to be rushed down a never ending hall to a grey room. I remember a white lab coat giving my shaking hand a small paper cup filled with a dark purple liquid. I remember it tasted like sour grapes. I remember the feeling of fire tickling my throat when I breathed a thin whisper of air. I remember laying down on the stretcher, being roughly transferred onto a hospital bed. I remember the white lab coat strapping a mask to my face and turning a knob on a big, green tank. I remember shocking, cold air curling down my throat into my lungs. I remember the sour taste of artificial breath filling, emptying my body. I remember wearing the mask for what felt like an eternity and was actually only fifteen minutes. I remember the white lab coat saying something about my lungs being taut with air, that I couldn't breath out, that five more minutes and they might have burst. I remember picturing two pink balloons being pierced by a needle. I remember how every time I had difficulty breathing, how even now when I have difficulty, I see my breathless body cold on a slab. I remember how that thought used to terrify me. I wince because now that thought only brings me joy, hope. I remember that my lungs are weak just as they were when I pulled in air for the first time.