Before I had ever taken my first breath, the doctors knew I was cursed with bad lungs. They would inject my mother with needles eight inches long to keep me breathing, and they had to take me out because my heart was just as bad as my breathing patterns. They feared for my life when I was inside, but as soon as I started to scream with a voice that would make babies months older than me look weak, they acted as if my lungs were never an issue.
It's no wonder that I've always had a fear of not being able to breathe. Whether this developed in utero or not, I don't know, but I can remember one of the firsts.
I remember having the voice of an angel. I would laugh, scream, sing as loud as I could, but it would never be loud enough for God to hear. I always wanted him to hear me sing for him. I would find myself teaching myself how to keep my breath with me, even when my lungs wanted to collapse on themselves. I played the sax, and it may have taken me a month to play with the lungs of a champion, but never regretted making my faulty organs stronger.
Forty-five minutes of not breathing sucks. When I discovered that my Uncle had died, it took me almost an hour to find my breath. At eleven, being able to breathe is important. It is one of the most important things a child can do. If you cannot breathe, then you are weak. If you cannot breathe, then you cannot play with other children. If you cannot breathe, you can die, and as much as I wanted to die, I still wanted to breathe.
At fourteen, she took my breath away, and for once, it did not fill me with fear. My hands did not shake, and I did not go for my inhaler. She filled my lungs with cotton and hatched butterflies in my belly. My veins didn't itch around her, and I thought that I could not live without her. I tried to live without her, and I ended up trying not to live.
Isn't it funny that a boy who wanted so badly to breathe would try to suffocate himself as his last goodbye? My hands made that noose, my fingers tied it, and my mind wanted me to stop when I pulled it tight enough to bruise. It never did, but for months afterward I wish that it had.
My mother is a chain smoker. Breathing in a constant pollution of second hand smoke can really damage already faulty lungs. For months, I would crack jokes about how my lungs didn't want to be lungs, and it scared me how much I believed it. Struggling to breathe is not something enjoyable, especially when you need them for more than survival.
I wanted to sing for years. I would talk about it, laugh about it, scream about it. I swore that if I ever lost my voice for good that I would end my life immediately. After a while, I stopped screaming. I stopped laughing. I didn't want to scream anymore. I didn't want to talk anymore. I didn't want to laugh anymore. I didn't want to sing anymore. I didn't want to breathe anymore.
I still have faulty lungs. I still have a voice, although it is fading. I still have a throat, and capillaries, and soft pink tissue that is probably turning grey as we speak. It does not matter. It's okay, because I'm still breathing.