The Great Depression

014           The day of November 22nd is a crucial day for me – a sacred day. The concept, of course, is that of marriage. One year ago today, at three o’clock, I became the luckiest man in the world. I married one of the most flawless and impossibly beautiful women that the world had walking upon its surface. The woman I was blessed to marry is the most amazingly talented and brilliant women that one could ever hope to know.

I remember everything. I remember the day I fell in love with this fantastic, scintillating star. I remember arriving at her house to speak with her family about the transplant process and sickness, and she happened to be the face behind the opening door. My brand new lungs, which were so filled with breath, were suddenly gasping for air. I was smitten, and remain so until this day.

It was kind of odd how the love came to be. I just blurted out that I was in love one day after her brother’s play. I can remember the smells…the scented sage and the candles. God…I can even remember the faint scent of linen, which her then apartment always had, as the large bathroom also served as a large laundry room with an unhooked vent. None of these I ever loved so much as I love her. It was a funny thing for me, because I never love romantically. I love the world, and I love kindness, but I don’t generally fall head over heels for anyone.  And it was a funny thing because I had never been in love and had no idea what the hell I was doing.

Something perfect happened when I met Sweet Bee. She was unique and dynamic and magnificent. Back when I met her I was so strong. I had forgotten my biggest weakness-the depression. I slept easier after leaving behind my loneliness – but mostly, I slept easier without the delusion of self that I had been intoxicated by for so long. The delusion that I could stick my head in the sand and everything would work itself out for me…and in my favor.

I wish I would have told her of my susceptibility. I wish I would have known it my own stupid self. But god…can you imagine how hard it is to come out and admit that you’re weak, after spending three years preaching Hope to the world? Good. Because depression is not a weakness- it’s a disease.

I can place myself back in our marriage day-I can see ourselves walking down aisles and stairs and listening to the “Great Gates of Kiev” as we entered our reception. The most fantastic thing about all of this is not that it simply “happened”… but that it was perfect. I had never been so happy in my life. The first week of our honeymoon was a fantastic Godsend in my life. And so went the following year. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined something so perfect and unimaginably flawless.

I had certainly made my mistakes,  but the strength of my beloved carried me through all things. Somehow, I arrive here today at my one year anniversary having just lost her. Lost everything I ever held dear and sacred.

This, of course, is not the fault of the woman I love. This is…all…my…fault.

I am a sufferer of clinical, chronic depression. Me-the Breathe Easy guy- am now seeking help for the clinical depression that has caused me to fall apart and to drink too much and to lose everything, including my dearly beloved wife. I had done some pretty stupid things in my life (see “invincibility complex”), but something so amazingly powerful as depression does more damage to a healed body than sickness ever had a chance to do to a healthy youth.

I remember the beauty of waking up to the sunrise at by beloved’s old apartment. I would look at that rising eastern sun and swoon. Then my wife would walk out and wait to be taken to work an there was something complete in me. She was that completeness in and of herself. That morning when I knew I would love her for the rest of my life, I can remember the brisk and cold air, blowing through the sunrise. The clouds were slim and wispy as if they were only there to be a part of the pink and orange morning beauty. The morning is a beautiful thing that is beautifully predictable – you can always count on that burning orange sun calmly rising in the east, and the brisk chilled winds to make sure you know you’re awake and alive before you rush off and commit to a day.

This morning I knew how much I loved her and I stepped outside of her old apartment was just such a morning. The toaster had just fried itself and I had to toss it outside before the whole thing caught the apartment on fire. After I pitched the toaster into the grass I was taken breathless by the scene. The flawless orange and yellow with the onset of beautiful blues was the true awakening. I knew I would always love this woman. One deep breath of crisp spring air, and I knew…this was peace and love. This morning was three years ago, and serves as this article’s cover photo.

As the next year and a half came and went, we had nothing but happiness. Every couple has its issues, of course, but we always fought hard to overcome them. The new bliss of our love was unconquerable and we would never let something tear down the life we were building. In September of 2014, I had totaled my car and was appropriately punished in court. This was the moment my depression returned. As my love began to drive me everywhere, and the stress of the incident reared its ugly head, I began to collapse again.

The following February I lost my license for six months, and it affected both my job and mental health in such a way as to take its toll on me. An apathetic malaise began to surface, and things stopped being done on time or done correctly because I was focused on the wrong things. I began to allow my wife to become the sole source of strength between the two of us, and that is my fault and my fault alone. This is the problem with people who ignore their depression and any sub problems of said depression such as drinking. Your mind becomes so hard, and so cluttered that you need to soften to survive.

Unfortunately, when you sober up again all you begin to think about is dulling the pain. And the sick, self-destructive cycle continues on and on forever, because alcohol is a lie. Things began to really spin out of control in April of this year when I nearly lost my Grandma, and immediately thereafter lost three very close friends to Cancer. Then, as I began to continue making poor choices, my own health became worse. Finally in June of 2015, I myself developed Cancer. The very day my wife and I closed on a house, I was sent to Cleveland via ambulance and spent two weeks recovering. I wish I could blame it on dumb luck, but the truth is the only cause is dumb, bad choices.

I had the Cancer successfully removed in July, and spent the remainder of the month worrying for my job. Finally, after July, I resigned my post and accepted that I must move on. At first, the happiness began to return, and I recognized my alcohol abuse, but continued to refuse treatment for depression – saying it couldn’t be possible that I – the Breathe Easy guy – could be depressed.

After the money started growing thin, and the clients started disappearing, so did the happiness. And finally, I had lost the only woman I’ll ever love – because I was a pig-headed ass who made a long string of poor decisions. Then, she was gone. Finally, the illnesses became real. I recognize the damage I have done now, and am seeking the help I need. I will see a specialist, and now have a sponsor in case I feel like drinking or doing something stupid.

The important lesson is that we shouldn’t be forced into a position in society into which we have to fall on the darkest times to seek the help we need. Depression, alcoholism, obsessive disorders, and you name it – these are real, and quite serious destructive diseases. Diseases just as risky as Cancer and Cystic Fibrosis. There is no shame in looking someone in the eye and telling them, “I have Depression, and I see a therapist twice each week.” There is no shame in saying to someone: “I am an alcoholic and I am now happy to say I am sober and in recovery.”

This world possesses great beauty, and there is nothing like living in it – clean, and with a clear head and a full heart. I know I need help for me now, and that I need to continue getting help for me, but I will never give up on love. I pray every day that she will not give up hope on me and my recovery, and I pray every day that we can rediscover that happiness. Burning toasters, post-it love notes, spontaneous gifts of love, and a good bouquet of Alstromeira. The life we have built is a beautiful one, and deserves every ounce of love I have to give. I just wish I would have seen this sooner.

Now, however, even if I wake up in the middle of the night sobbing, and need to make a call; or if I look at a bottle of wine with lust in my eyes, I know I have the help I need and there is someone to on the other end of the line. I know that if my life comes back in the door I will be strong enough to help it stay standing this time because I finally had the courage to seek the help I needed so desperately. Life is worth living, and love is worth saving. There is always a way, and there is always hope. Even when you need a shove to seek it out or to fight for it. Don’t wait until it’s gone before you try and find the courage to save yourself and your love – don’t wait until your whole life walks out the door like I did.

The Humbling Temporarily Removed

As many of you know, or at least some, my previous post – The Humbling – was riddled with mysteries, contradictions, and typos. This came as a result of a poor carry over from Word format to WordPress format. The cut and paste that created the problem in the site led to the deletion of entire sentences, hundreds of words, and a terrible fiddling with the punctuation. When I noticed late last night that there was a problem, what I found was what read like a cryptic, post-modern, and unhappy mess. Please stick around for a bit while I rebuild to post, and I’ll repost it as soon as I finish rewriting what was deleted in the carry over.



Re-Enter the Concept of Breathing

praying-hands-blackwhiteThings have been fierce like the seas, at times. At others quite calm like the snowstorm. The snow falling so fast and sticking to the earth in such volume, dampening sound. The silence will come again as we watch the purity of white flakes fall from the sky. Think of yourself sitting on the curb of your street and seeing cars pass, but not hearing one sound – one tire. Here we are again, with the frozen beauty. Yet we stand tall at all costs.

So many people still check to see if I am writing, and so I will write again. I have no desire to fall silent. So many messages. Recovery, I’ve determined, is more important than deafening sickness. This could well be because so many who defeat sickness decide that the act alone is sufficient to cure their terminal illness, and so they pass beyond. My friends…brothers…sisters…CFers everywhere. This fight never ends. I am healthy, but I have to scrape the dirt for a hill of sand to pound for it.

The last one…my last CF companion from childhood has passed on. I am alone, now. I remember our last call: “I just can’t, Gabe. I give up.” Two weeks later he was gone and he was the last one I knew first hand. He was my final companion. There is only one solution for the poison of giving up: the poison of refusing to. Refusing to give in is a poison to our pain, and within it we can seek its destruction. I have learned since transplant that I had died three times prior. Officially. Dead. But I didn’t want to stay there. And so…I didn’t.

The peculiar thing about what is and is not is that both are intellectually subjective. I am here because this is what I love. The people I surround myself with are love. Life. Is love. Remember this always, even as the post that comes of the weekend or next are filled with influenced and subjective interpretation. Remember Love Always. Always Love.

Love Always,


Part II: The Second Winter

awakening…And that is where I stopped writing…

You see, anyone who has any sense runs into the wall. That is what I realized. There is a point where every man looks at his future and says: “I can’t.” I didn’t so much look at my life and think there was a wall I was crashing into. Instead I looked at my future and cowered in fear. The weight of the full pressure of being a functional adult was crushing. “What do I do in this law practice?” “How do I cope with not having a complete absence of responsibility?”

At the end of it all these beautiful winters fly by our tearful eyes with great haste; waiting for nothing, but sharing beauty with all of us. The ground glistens with the ice of a future forward – testing our minds, and breaking our weakness – but treating us to a sight so astonishing that we finally understand what we have been fighting for. This second winter I find nothing so invigorating as the frozen chill of the numbness in my fingertips; the complete and all-encompassing frozen wonderland before my eyes.

There is much to be said for the living of a life that stands poised to fight once again. I find that at the end of all of this I will be ready to go directly into battle and fight until I die once and for all. I know now exactly what to do in this place I have stumbled upon.  Nothing can stop me, and nothing can make me feel that I’ve made a mistake any longer. Why this is, some wonder. But when we look to the meaning of our decisions we need only look in the mirror. What do you see? I will tell you about what glares back through those poisoned eyes that I see: something that has overcome through miraculous endeavors. Someone who does not know whether he did it himself, or whether he had help. Someone who craves little for knowing the answer. But, in the end, I see someone who still wakes up each day and says: “today I will be a better man.”

The snow falls in torrents now, and the ground glistens like a completely new world as yet unwritten by man. The footprints in the snow are conspicuously absent, while the tire tracks of the passing cars can be found no longer. The kind of snow you want to go and make a snow angel, or simply stick your tongue out of your mouth; wide and expectant. The taste of that first flake of the year rushing down your back while it freezes your fingertips. The beauty is not in the discomfort, because the discomfort is a misconception. You see, these feelings, these last ditch efforts of a body to feel something…these make us a beautiful piece of creation. Proprioceptors, nociceptors, and all of the neurons in our body flying through our minds all at once. Thousands of electric shocks  ringing in our ears as our mind says both: “it’s cold!” and “it’s beautiful!”

The beauty in the world is something that reminds me of nothing. The negative sound of the sentence is not intended, but there is simply no comparison. Nothing can be similar enough for remembrance or reminders than the breathtaking blessing that streams from the fount of a miraculously crafted perfection. At the end of all that there is, there is not a thing but the beneficial essence of the comrades with whom we would be willing to live. Not with whom we would die. You see, being taken for mortal is something other than being appreciated. For, to be loved is to create the manifestation of immortal essence. But to die is only the elimination of essence, alone. Therein we must fight so much harder to live and love.

Imagine that feeling you had when you met your first mate. Was she beautiful? Was he handsome? See, this is the essence of adulthood masquerading as an absence of the conceptualization of the inner child. This is the second winter.

Step outside.

Stick your tongue out and taste a snowflake.

You are young again.

Make a snow angel and take every sensation you can into your being.

Here we are in the second winter of my life. I remember struggling with roads and feeling that chilling freeze fill my lungs. It seems to so many that this is pain and discomfort. Stop for one second. Just imagine a life where you can’t breathe that deep and can’t even have the privilege of feeling that cold snap. It is not inconvenient, it is invigorating. Without your body telling you what is hot and cold, pleasurable and fantastic, painful and harsh….how can you live? Sensation is the only thing standing between us and living Death. Pain is pleasure when it means the definitive markings of a life well lived.

All that we have now is hope and life. There is no more in between. I see it every day now – people tearing other people apart through a courtroom or a system. Some kind of bullet shot forth to destroy each step of the way. Do you want remuneration for an injustice? Do you want to break everything apart and start over? Mostly the answer is one vindictive “yes.” But I encourage you to live for life, and to fight to live. The body will die, but the heart is eternal. Live for your beautiful heart, and hope for amazing things because we all have something inside of us that shines like the sun.

Life is beauty because life is kindness. I see my theory in this world and then I combine it with the manifestation of practice and retaliation  upon the precipice.  Over the course of the last few months I have met some thing and some people that made professionalism seem just as organic and worth the effort of breathing easy. I can say only one thing with conviction…breathing easy was astonishingly hard.

Here I am and I am going to marry the only woman I have ever known real love for. Not young love, and not temporary love – but something permanent. You see…I proposed to her and I will teBd0ogGHCQAAdrhZll you all about this now. I walked her through our memories, and I loved her like there was no world beyond the tomorrow that we claim a stake in. This is something I still do when I wake…each day. First I took her to our first bouquet of flowers, and then I left ten clues, written on parchment and sealed in wax with my symbol – the fleur de lis. At the end of the hunt she found her love letter, and the second delivery of her ring with a letter. The second letter, in the second winter. BMSR is the breath in my lungs, and the sense in my logic. She is my superior and my honor. She is not mine. She is hers. And I love her like breath and life.

I practice law and I love, and I live. When I started this living memoir in 2010 I will tell you with truth on my lips that I knew I would die before I received the transplant. I am humbled by my success t defying Death, and I am proud of the life in which I have drowned since that day. Three failed offers, and a diagnosis that said I would die when I was eight. But here I am. I remember that first diagnosis of respiratory failure. I was more pissed than afraid. I said to myself: “not today, and not this way.” I said this because I wanted to know what real love was, and what kindness felt like. I said this because I wanted to practice law and help the world find something in itself. I am here now, watching the snow fall out in the world. Freezing my ears in the same second that I engage the Earth upon which I walk. The rusting snow doesn’t cause me pain now, however. I can only think of JJW and the opportunity he has given me, and BMSR and my love for her. The life I live and the parents and family that held me up on my feet when my body tried to fall.

I can stare at the mesmerizing snowfall for hours and see nothing but time flying toward Earth and love in rust-smelling white flecks. Here I stand today, with something more than 60 pounds of weight I never had before the lungs came to honor me with their life-giving blessing. Here I stand today…with breath. Look at your world, remember your life is precious…and breathe. Always know the beauty Life offers you, and the potential that it leaves before you. Take it. Take it and breathe.

Part I: The Second Autumn

SolitudeThe scent has returned. The world is preparing for a long sleep and permits us the privilege of witnessing it shed its colors and fall into a long hibernation. And so it came and it passed. As our reward we find that we get one moment to watch. We catch a side glimpse of the universe breaking in half, and becoming something new – a cocoon speaking the names of the loved ones. So many people view the autumnal days as a sign of the coming death of the world. But – alas – for me it is a reckoning. I once shed my flesh and body to become new again in the spring. I have died. Two times. Three times? But here I stand before you as a titan and a survivor by complete accident of fate. Autumn is not death. Autumn is a sign that there will be rebirth. While my body shed its leaves, so did the trees; and as my life clouded with uncertainty, so the sky did as well. Lo, the cotton clouds speak volumes more than my simple mind can grasp.

The autumnal winds and rains have come, and they have brought with them the reminiscent scent of sickness that permeates the love and life I’ve come to expect and answer to. The same maze that I was once running so much like a rat; to the precipice I have come and the edge do I yet grasp, filled with fear. The conundrum presents itself: how do we fight for the ultimate health while balancing the pivotal life we wish we had had the courage to have lived?

I lost everything for a moment so many months ago, and yet regained it all the next. It’s a funny thing that happens when the world comes together to show you that you must bow low to your own mortality. Again and again, as if each morning – I approach this precipice and wonder if I should happen to fall, what would happen next? It is not so much of a chorus as it seems, the end of a measure and the resonance in which we gather while the symphony finds solace in its universal crescendo. It is merely the culmination of the recognition of the Invincibility Complex come to grapple with our new found Mortality Complex. Nothing so complicated about a feigned complexity as this. We live, and we survive. We don’t die and we fill up with guilt and we spill over.

Every single thing. She and the universe have come to one place and made things coalesce into what is visible through the treacherous fogs of what is and what is not. What is not is merely the absence of what is. And here I stand to prove that this as a statement of fact rather than a mere hypothesis. Life could always endure when death approaches – if so we did choose –  but only when we come face to face with it and choose to defy it through eternity do we know defiance of  mortality.

It has been a rocky month or two as I found a home with a law firm in town – which feels more like a future than a past. I find that this has all come to pass at the perfect time of the year and the coalescence of scents and sounds with thoughts and emotions has become a manifold and a safety. I had no right to expect someone would pluck me out of the bowels of obscurity and cast me into a light, and so the eternal voice of my gratitude is invariable.

When I started working I lost the ability to track a few critical necessities. My body was new and I knew not what it meant to linger and loiter – resting casually against the walls of convenience and cleverness. Work need not deplete us or delete us like so little text in the machine, but so we rest our backs on the plaster and hope for physical strength in the mind alone. In the mind rests an unmuddied fountain, and so we must continue diving – even after we think we’ve crashed upon the rocks.

Life as a practicing attorney is an amazing life, indeed. From 3.9 on average to 3.5 did my FEV1 drop, however. I didn’t know what was happening at first and my cowardice prevailed. I began to see myself as the rejectee – or the rejector, as it were. But when I stopped aggressively working my body, I didn’t process the connection between furious effort and lackluster performance.

To take the world and make it your own one must understand the concept of the world as it stands. I do not. The amazing thing about life is that no one person could ever know what it is to be unified with the concept of the dichotomous relationship between life and non-life. We simply are. We are.

I like to think about where I was one year ago today. To think of the savage abyss from which I could cry out even in recovery. Or perhaps – maybe – I should remember where I was two years ago. Dying. I would say to myself: “I have at least 20 years to drag this condition into the future.” I had that in months, at best. Life is never a fight. It is a gift. No matter how much I struggled to gasp for air and how hard I tried not to suffocate on the words I spoke to make this site prosperous and all-encompassing…no matter…it was always a reality that I was offering. We are not struggling; even as we throw our hands in the air and beg to live for one more minute. Broken and sickness embodied, so do we take for granted our stature as the end of what comes. Life is the culmination of Hope, and so we only need one single second.

The life I live is a blessed one, and comes mostly from fortune rather than fame. The nature of what the privileged have is a sick and twisted version of what those who have nothing could have should they so come into miracles and privilege. I have died. I have died and I can look in the mirror and say: “I know I do not deserve this entitled sense of superiority.” I only lived. I am the one who got lucky. Of course, I do know so many CF patients who simply gave in and died. One who said to me two weeks before he died: “I just can’t do it anymore, Gabe. I don’t want to be here. I can’t…” And so went the last of the roommates we were permitted to have as CF patients. This ended when I was 12 years old, and not one remains alive.

Life is nothing if you refuse to strip the greatness from it. Life is nothing if you refuse to live it. I promise you that death awaits us all. Those with CF, and my dearest friend with another disease. But at the end of the day I remember the only thing my birth-mother ever taught me…”what is disease, but the absence of ease?” And so it goes. Make it easy. Take your stress and sickness and roll it up into a ball. Look then, and maybe pain will cease to be as intimidating when it is in the palm of your hand.

I clawed my way to my life, and still don’t quite deserve it. Look now. See the Sun setting so soon, and see the stars of Cassiopeia shining like the night’s own guidepost. Look now. See the fields and the trees beckoning you to know the world in which you live. If we forget for one moment the precious permanence of life, then we risk the fleeting absence of it as an alternative. Take your night and use it to stare up into the Milky Way. This came so easily when winter showed its inevitability. I stood out front of the apartment and cried. I wept and I loved. The universe is more than we can ever grasp and within it rests an entirely unique realm of thought that contemplates naught but beauty.

So goes the luck of the life I live so gratefully.

There’s This Funny Thing About Life…

SolitudeI am so sorry…

You see, after a few months of full time employment, I have done nothing but journalize my life. I haven’t posted as I promised, but I have written as I have anticipated…

It’s an amazing thing, this…Time. You find yourself a part of the winter winds, and the autumnal leaves. Suddenly, you find that you have missed everything that creates the dynamics of Life, and settled for naught but the realism of living. It is truly amazing how one can look at the sky and feel they have run out of time, but continue to work the entirety of their days as anything but an adventurer.

To be an adventurer…this I miss. I see the past and I remember flying through the world as if a ghost with life.  But I would trade nothing, and for this I have found all that I ever sought to find. There is more to be said for successful completion of one’s goals than there is whimsy. Life is beauty, but it is something which we must find the beauty in rather than waiting with arms open to catch something we have not found, indeed. To take your breath for granted is to forsake your own beauty. We are life. We are human.

On the horizon, I have the post I promised in October, as well as a post written for December. I am going to post them at the same time as a celebration of life. Soon, I will have something to say. For so long, I’ve forsaken saying anything in favor of living everything. I regret nothing, but I am still here. Thank you for staying with this site, to all of the 30,000 of you who have come and gone for my words. I love you, I love Life, and I love everything that is. I will see you all on Saturday with a double post. Keep Breathing Easy, and don’t forget to look up at that sky and breathe deeply – Living is beautiful.



Super Fast Update About Updates!

Hello, friends.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here, in spite of my own commitment to write here once each month or more. It’s a funny thing, but now that I am living a life that I have always sought out…I am writing about it significantly less than I am living it.

But I write. I write and I write. Before any of that finds its way to the site, however – I want to make sure it says something worth saying. To look into the sunset and to live and love is an equivalent exchange, but to abandon the concept of hope is foreign to my mind. I have much to say about my progress, and much to say about my fall from health in the past month – and also finding an equilibrium yet again. Breathing Easy is still breathing easy, and I am posting to let you all know that I will have my new post up within the next week.

Thank you for staying tuned, and please keep watching. But, more so than anything else – don’t miss a single breath. And don’t let your life continue one more moment without taking a second to appreciate the amazing beauty within which we continuously find ourselves standing.



The Coming of The Second Year a Second Time

8655298738_431e9beb54_o            The year has come and gone with no fury and bluster, but pleasure and pride. There is a name for this peace of mind, and pieces of mine: eudemonia. The essence of all that is within, and the composition of my being is something that has come to be quite synonymous with happiness and an amazing contentment. Emotionally, I am complete. Spiritually, I am whole. Physically…I am alive. This is the second time that a second year has come, and the last. Should this ever arise again, there will be a third, but at long last I envision that I will be as so much ash in the winds by the time I need live in Death’s long shadow once more.

I find that I have celebrated great health with a day in the sun and a day in the world. For the first anniversary of my birth, last July 16th, I have had dinner with those whom I love and I have ridden roller coasters for the first time in decades. Life has not come full circle. Rather, I have started a completely new one, and I now stand poised to embrace my second year; my second circle. My first birthday having come and gone, I feel God-sized, yet submissive to the concept of the necessity of humility. There is something intrinsic in the fight against sickness that lets one know they are infinitesimally small – universally. Yet, alas, we tend to falter and fade unto the giants in our own mind. As Nimrod lowers us unto the ninth circle, we feel as though we still may stand above him in spite of his having lent us his hands. To fight after defeating Death itself is to look into the eyes of some twisted  megalomania and say: “No. Not for me. I am but a man.” Alas, often we cease fighting after the eternal chess game has ended, and Death grants us life.

Submission is key in the destruction of prideful sicknesses. Think of this for a moment. There is no sense in saying that sickness is a manifestation of pride, surely. However, the way we overcome is through an amazingly powerful environment filled with love. There is an immediate necessity, here: to prioritize the love of family and friends. To prioritize the necessity of leaning upon the shoulders on which we most rely. Sickness alone, for me…well…this was something akin to a rationalization. But sickness defeated was a culmination of love given and love received. And it was something that came so naturally that all I really wanted was nothing more than to wake next up after a successful surgery next to my mother LP and my father JP, whose faces I can still see in those horrible plastic ICU chairs exactly one year ago in July. My father’s face staring down at me as he reminded me I could do this when they ripped the ventilator out of my throat with a numbing grind. Without those shoulders…where, God? Where would I be?

So many visits to the hospital in Columbus to keep myself alive in the interim…so many…so many… Each time I went with my Grandma N, and we became an amazing team. This is a woman who I admire and hold in esteem that can’t be measured. Though my cold exterior never leans on anything but chairs and doorframes – it is clear that to lean on those I love with what is inside of me is something amazing, indeed. Something that has driven me to this date – the day that the world says: “You’ve made it”…”Your transplant worked!” It is truly something to brag about, this. My family carried me to the finish line like a sack of potatoes, and then I found someone to whom I could give every ounce of love I have ever found and have ever known in the world. There has not been one single moment in time that I have not had a life filled with love – be it my love extending outward, or someone loving me inward – but my life after birth has been love alone. I have said many times that life’s fruits can only be tasted by those who will love the world selflessly, and it holds true. The fact that love is something coming inward for me is what saves my life over and over again each day.

I still remember the sound of those clippers in the tiled shower at Cleveland Clinic…sitting there idle for three months. Waiting and then healing. So much anxiety. Will I live? Will I see eternity, or will I see stillness? Will I see rejoicing, or will I see silence? I called my brothers JH and AEZ before each offer just to tell them I loved them and they saw me through. I called LP and two hours later she was standing in front of me hoping for nothing but the best outcome. I always underestimated how much everyone around me was filled with love, and I encourage you – readers – to never make that mistake. People are capable of great things if you let them manifest the truth of their emotion. And at the end of the day – nothing outside of knowledge and wisdom wields as much power as an emotion.

The panic leading up to the anniversary was immense. I admit it. It was something extreme, which time has forced upon me as my enemy. Time. Time is something so significant as to earn no more than my ignorance, yet it commands the stock of my concern as does one with  pull and power.  But I am home. I am home now and time can never touch me again. I can drink, and I can feel. I can eat and I can heal. I can love and live, meet, and see. I can find happiness in the things that flew by in my periphery before I knew how important they were. Within the depths and counsel of the spirit that I thought I possessed, I have found peace and health at long last.

Yes. The coming of the second year, a second time. This is an eternity which questions the coming of the first. Did I ever wait, or was it all a dream? The death of a child to provide the lungs of a grown man, and the provision of life where only death would have remained.  My survivor’s guilt was astounding. Something like that. I had some manifestation of guilt that doesn’t quite fit the defined parameters of survivor, but it was a great regret for me to know that one should have to die, and I should have the privilege of life. I would have gladly died so that another may live, and to accept the gift of life where I would much rather have given it was…troubling. There is no justice in death. But, alas, neither is there justice in sickness. So we make our choices, and we move forward. We overcome, and we persevere.

I have no idea what happened in the last 365 days, or the time after. It all seems to be spinning around like an insane carousel with a mind all its own. I know I can feel the pulling and tearing of muscles in my arms and chest and legs. I can feel weights, and taste protein. I can feel the sweat on my back, and prove that I’m real when I use my body and take advantage of its new found strength. But, when I see myself in the mirror, I lose my connection to recognition and reality. I become a manifestation of my own hope and a realization of my own dreams ten years before. My life was unhappy and sick, then. I found no peace when I was young, and even when I submersed myself in the beauty of the world…even then I could drown in the self-flagellating, and  pain-stricken lack absence of universal worth I felt when I looked in a mirror. I was an empty shell, and a dying husk.

Each day I think back to the moment they told me I would never make it this far; that I would plateau. Each day I think back to the moment the respiratory therapist told me I would never make it this far. The rest is nothing more than a blur of moments, bleeding together to form the conceptual year. There is an intrinsically philosophical property to the recognition of the time passing by within the context of the life I have stolen from its gaping maw. I like to think that “I showed those guys!” But I didn’t. It was never about spite, because spite is empty. The heart of spite is rotten and full of sickness. I have fought for too much, and lived through too much for this ship to break apart upon the rocks of spite’s wicked shore. It is about life, and life alone. It’s about the same philosophical approach to life that I’ve always had: hope.

Hope permeates and permits. Hope defines and determines. Time has exploded like a dying star, and here I stand. Here we stand. Through trial and triumph the body of readers and transplantees, the ill and the healed, the hopeful and the apprehensive; we stand united and we stand alive, basking in the heat of the beautiful nova. Life is a series of moments flashing by when you recall it all at once. Each among us has a vision of tiny moments; flashes of light. The shining of a street lamp upon the smile of the one we love. The moon shining across the waters as we stand there alone and witness the world’s beauty calling to us as though we’ve never seen anything in our lives, and our eyes have only just then opened for the first time. The snow descending upon our brows and making note of each step we take, for just one moment, until our life’s path has been hidden again by the winter’s rush.

We can never go back. We can never relive these precious moments, but we can always remember the eyes and the smiles, the snows and the motions. The truth of Life’s excitement is that it is the dominant oppressor of Death. To die is to experience one moment. To live is to embrace a mentality and a series of these moments as one united front that stands tall; firmly embracing all of your hopes and dreams should you choose to trust it.  To choose to move forward and to take everything as a gift; even a gift of life that has come from the clutches of unjust death. In the end, to know a truth is not to live; but to live is to know Truth itself.

In all of the recognition of that which has been overcome, the most difficult fight remains ahead of all of us. To overcome the self, the constant pull of the world spinning in circles around us; reaching out and yanking us toward it like some overpowered graviton. The self is a powerful thing when you come face to face with the megalomania which is the culmination of defeating death with one decisive blow. We become reckless. Things spiral out of control and enjoyment becomes an accessible part of our weakness. I remember my first month of recovered health post-transplant being a month filled with audacity and challenge. I looked the world in the eyes and asked what else it could possibly throw at me.

It is just this recklessness that can destroy us for a second time. The second coming of an Invincibility Complex. We must learn to heed our own words in such a case, and to expose ourselves once more to the concept of humility. Fighting off death is not the only thing we must to in this life to do right by the ones we love. We must also live well, and do everything in our power to prevent its unwelcome return. Never lose sight of the humility that can keep hope alive within you, for the moment you think you have succeeded you are beyond a use for hope and humility. You find yourself complete, and this is something we can never be.

The human condition is one such that our journey is never complete in this life. One thing I have always tried to stand by is that kindness, hope, and humility are the primary goals I wish to achieve. Exactly one year ago today I returned home from Cleveland Clinic for the final time. I lost sight of these ideas for a short time when I returned home, but I began to understand once more.  To love truly is to live, and to do this we must remain humble and true to the kindnesses we share. To forget this is to risk the entirety of this second life I have waited so long to find, or to lose it completely. I have never felt so alive as I do now; however, if I have learned anything since I first arrived home, it is that the most valuable things in this life are love and kindness. Even more so than breath.

Update From Breathing Easy!

anniversary_1Dear Readers,
This is a trifle late as regards timing and recognition, but the anniversary post is looming. Gloaming, rather – as the anniversary of my transplant approaches its dusk. I don’t like to post as much as I used to post because…well…to put it simply…there is no dramatic thrust to my memoir anymore. There is something amazing about being a part of the downfall of a man such as I was two years ago. Something that pulls a reader in. Something that emphasizes the pathos and the intensity of the inward fight for life and love. This is something I, and all of humanity, understand all too well.

What amazes me about humanity is the intrinsic ability to see life for what it is worth and continue to sympathize after the suppression and defeat of Death itself.  Death. A character in my memoir whom you will see much of from now on. People continue to click on my site, and read the reaffirmation of life that I have come to scream into the skies and the ears of all those who might listen. At the end of the day we must understand that living a fulfilling life is not something which we do to please the aesthetic sensibilities of those who may judge us; but to do what is right by that which lies within our hearts and spirits. Are minds are for naught, for they continuously judge us for failures in others’ eyes – but ask your spirit what it may do under the intensity of the gaze of Hope himself.

When Time comes knocking for its own distinct reckoning, I say to it: “My discharge date was August 29th, my dear friend – and not until that day will I stand in recognizance of my anniversary.” I respect Death and Time as noble foes, but Life itself is a stronger ally than any enemy can ever defy. To know life is to know love, and to know love is to know BSR, truth, and discipline. I will do something amazing in this world…even if it takes me a lifetime. That is a choice, and not a gift. A choice you can make, and you can take your blessings as you may. Your spirit will guide you, surely. However, your future is yours. Force it. Fight for it. It takes time and it seems like an eternity, but there is no end to the goodness we can humbly place into this world.

So, Readers, find me here some time around the 29th. Perhaps before – a preemptive strike. Or perhaps a few days after – a reflection and retrospection. I will see you then, and I hope that you are full of Hope. You are loved, and I am full of gratitude.



The Choice to Live

add-12            These past weeks and months have been something from which I shall learn and benefit, always. I have known love and loss, rejection and acceptance. I have known beauty and the absence of beauty, without knowing the tainted touch of ugliness. Now there is something so precious and beautiful in my life. In the end, sense comes through the choice to find happiness; and then grabbing on and never letting it go again. I have spoken to thousands about why life is amazing, and I have tasted the spectacular glory of that which names itself accomplishment. In the midst of this I have known rejection from jobs, rejection of jobs, and some sense of failure. But, alas, I then remember that I was only born ten months ago, and I don’t feel so bad.

Life is a battle of perspectives. True happiness comes in a subjective moment of lucidity, in which one simply makes the choice to embrace what they have and never let it go. Risks must be taken and I think that this pays well in emotion. Waits must also be adhered to. For I have waited thirty years, waxed contemplative for ten years, yet I have only just now seen the heart of the true meaning of love. Life is a conceptualization of that which is adjustable/adaptable/applicable to our own heart, and no more in our  mind. For so long..for SO long…my mind has been turning my heart off. I apologize to all of you. Turn your minds off on occasion and turn nothing on save that last organ…your beating heart…like a clock ticking away at the seconds…your heart is counting down to naught but freedom. I have spent so much time in my mind…so much time…

I now have a new comprehension of what it means to have begun to live for the first time. Find love that matches the solar flares of your heart’s content, match them, and then meet them. Seek a sunset with your arms open to the world’s beauty, without for one moment considering why it is so astounding in its scope. I have never been able to break down the walls and the occupancy of the fear of vulnerability which possessed me from the beginning to the end. However, the dynamic presented by just such a contextual labor is one which must be envied and sought after. I have overcome, and life has taken on a new form of gesture and contemplation; a new meaning. Love with all of your being, just generally love – openly, honestly, completely. Love the homeless, love the unfortunate; love the indoctrinated, and  love the innocent. It is all a reflection of how well we know how to love our own self. Anyone in this world can be cruel and angry, while the truly honorable may sacrifice their lives for an enemy.

This world is premised upon the precarious precipice of emotional skepticism and reluctant disciplines.  It is within each of us to change that. The world is one which we must approach with naught but love in our hearts. This burden is on us exclusively. How did one such as myself come to find that life was more valuable than the collective commiseration that comes through the varying degrees of palatable sadness? I simply chose to do so. I chose the path I took. Find hope within you. It is there! I had a very close friend who said to me three days before he died: “I give. I give up. I can’t, Gabe…I just can’t do this anymore.” He lost hope, and abandoned love; and the world is lesser for the absence of his presence.

The moving premise here is that the choice to live rests within each of us. Some of us are not sick, and to live means something completely unique: to find your peace, or embrace your purpose. Take your life, and make it your own; travel the depths inside of you before you seek to immerse yourself within the world’s own. You may notice that this blog is now called “Breathing Easy.” I am reborn. I have taken my new life, and I have overcome whatever obstacles a transplant hoped to present. I don’t care if I reject and die twenty minutes ago. I loved. I lived. The interesting thing about the transplant process is that so many people have low expectations. “Well it will amount to f(x)…” But no, no. No. It will amount to whatever the hell you say  it will. Wake up one morning and say: “today is mine…and so is forever.” And take it.  Reach out with your mind and all of the power of your spirit and tear your body to pieces until it is strong enough to make this transplant worth it. Reach out before your transplant and fight like a lion, and let yourself know you can be invincible when it is all over if you’re smart and strong. You will know love. You will know life. I know love. I know life. But within you shines a brighter light yet. Just choose. Choose to turn it on…and choose to live. There is something which comes after. When the dam breaks and the water begins to flow – the trees do not fall, the cities do not drown, and the damage is naught to be found; the rushing forth of the water only shows us how dry the banks of our rivers had grown. The spirit grows dehydrated in the cold grasp of despair and neglect – let the waters rush forth.

One year ago, nearly…god…one year…I was sitting in a bathroom at Cleveland Clinic with my wonderful mother shaving my greasy, sick head. I remember the feeling of clippers skidding across my head in a tiled and darkened bathroom. Grinding clippers to remind me that I was insufficient each time they crossed the apex of my silly scalp. The buzzing sound, the chair in the bath because I couldn’t stand, and a long leash of tubing sending six liters of oxygen into me by measures. Each time a clump of hair fell, grimy with the souring filth of an unhygienic sickness, it landed with a small yet deafening slap. I would stand up and brush off my shame, and wait for more. I would wait for a nurse just to walk to the bathroom so that they could hold me upright, placing a rebreather on my face at 15 liters just to make the ten foot walk from my bed. I would live and breathe hope while I waited to know whether I could live or die. But even then I was alive.

Living was a choice. Living is something inside of you; your mind, your spirit. Over the course of the passing year since the day of my rebirth, I have been trying so hard to make up for thirty years of being closed off from a world filled with opportunities. And I am more alive now than I have ever been. I have been drowning in a sea of delight, activity, adventure,  the fruits of experience applied to the facilitation of learning and acquisition of wisdom.  But something became clear to me as I was abandoning all caution and living like there was nothing standing in the way of my rendezvous with eternity that it was not the occurrences which were bringing me to life – it was the choice I made in my heart to seek them out. I could have been just as alive from the thick sickness and infection-soaked fabrics of the chair I called my home.  I was happy to be sure; learning…hopeful. I was experiencing wonderful things within myself as I developed a wisdom and knowledge of self to prepare my heart for an uncertain future and a fight to stay alive – but I was not allowing myself to live because I had no access to the magnificent world passing me by. No scent of spring leaking through a slightly opened window with the gentle push of geosmin permeating the air with a petrichor longed for always, no drives in the sunsets. But I did have what I needed, and I find myself wondering now whether there was more I could have done to stay alive.

I breathe deeply now, and I live with greater depth yet. My life is changing now, and my world has expanded greatly – surely I know now what it means to be alive. I have chosen to make use of that life and to relish its tastes and scents. Life in this incarnation was out of reach to me before without question, so my message is twofold: sickness and happiness can coincide to make your spirit rich and healthy, but you still have a choice to make about living, and; when you stand before the looming spectre of a surgery so imposing and intimidating as an organ transplant you can look it right in the eye and say, “I do not fear you, for it is the light behind you which truly shines bright.”

No sick man is alone in the choice to live. We can all go for walks and see nothing, simply exercise and be alive. Or, we can go on a walk filled with wonderment, stopping and smelling the lilacs as they bloom and fall flitting from the tips of their delicate branches…staring into the vast expanse of a sky so blue that it almost seems like animation…walking out at night and thrusting a fist high into the air to shout at the stars: “I am coming for you!” We all have the privilege to be alive, but so few take the honor of being able to live.

I am healthier now than I have thought I could ever be, and my PFTs have registered higher than I was told the400673_10101073660173415_2008466710_ny ever would, ringing in at an FEV1 of 102%. This is something I was eager to disprove, and I fought to do so. I decided to live. To live need not be a choice to find pleasures of the flesh; only a choice to find the best of what it is that you have within you, harness it, and feed it until it grows strong – then to give that part of yourself to the world completely. I have tried so hard to do this, and I will do it again every day for the rest of my life. I fight, I push, and I don’t lose. Someday I will die. But on this day, I will be fighting so hard that someone will have to drag me into the next life. I choose to live.

Every step I take now has the volumes written by the life I have led to guide my foot onward. I now know that I am in a position to also find that pleasure in life and to be a part of it, as well as to truly live. My heart is no longer my own for the first time in my life, yet with my spirit I am completely at one. When  I see who I stand beside I know love and truth. When I see where I am and what I am doing I know gratitude and am humbled, as I know I am in the presence of the truly beautiful. This is the most important thing I could ever have done, to open up my heart and mind and make the choice to not just fight for life – but to live the one I had. To live the one I had by giving the best of what I have become away and continuing to grow, by embracing what I am. I am breathing easy now, and I breathe easy for another; I breathe easy for the world.

I focus on obtaining knowledge to this day, I focus on getting healthier and stronger, I focus on finding something similar to enlightenment for my spirit – but I have learned the most important lesson of all; give all of what I have right back to the world which taught it to you. Give it back with the best of what you are, love the steps you take, and explore the depths of your heart. Fight to become stronger, and give your growing strength back to the world which required you to become strong.  Forget that you are merely alive for a moment, and cast out your routine. Live instead. I have seen Death and looked him in his eyes so many times, that I began to think it was being alive that was important. I was fooled into thinking loving life was the same as living life. But this fine line separates two concepts of great difference. It is important, and we should all fight to appreciate and keep our lives. But there’s more. The fight makes you strong, but to what end? Take the best of what you are, and live.