By Nina Buik
I never really understood how good it was to breathe until I realized how long I had been holding my breath. Holding, waiting for, as they say, the other shoe to drop. Waiting for the next unexpected wave of grief to slam me with its salty fury. Waiting, just waiting. The burden of holding my breath left me feeling powerless, mechanical, anxious, joyless and a prisoner rather than a participant in the life I was gifted. I ate too much, I drank too much and I wanted to wash away the pain, not realizing it was only intensifying the pain. No one would judge as they all looked at me and thought, “I’m sure I would do the same, if I had lost a child.”
Since Savannah took her first ascent to heaven and final ascent on earth, I’ve encountered so many experiences that gave me a thick lens into my heart and soul. With all of the trees being planted around the world, I now know that all of the oxygen generated was a sign to me that it was time to breathe. And then, I took my first deep breath taking in all of the energy, the love and the purpose around me and before me.
My smile was no longer that of an imposter going through the motions of the day. It was beaming from my heart and eager to be shared. The fog on my rear view mirror cleared and I began to reflect on the series of amazing things that have happened and the realization of who made them happen. The realization that while Savannah is not physically with us, she is here with us ALL of the time.
I’m losing weight, drink less, feel better and love way deeper than I ever felt possible….and if the shoe falls, I’ll be there to catch it.
The Chicago Mountaineering Club is an organization that promotes interest in the sport and craft of mountaineering and fosters fellowship among climbers of the Chicago/Midwest area. One of its wonderful board members and programs chair, Seth Horowitz reached out to Court and I about planting a tree at Devil’s Lake for Savvy. Of course, we were honored. And in addition, they would also make Savvy an honorary member. Something they had never done before in the 80 years the group has been together. The tree planting took place on Saturday, August 17th. Court and I arrived at the CMC campground at about 4pm. There were about 50 or so campers there and folks were trickling in from a day of climbing and hiking.
We were greeted by Seth and in awe of how beautiful the campground was. While giving us the lay of the land, a cicada landed on my jacket. You may recognize the cicada by it’s sound during the summer months. It crescendos into a very loud sound and then tapers off. Most know the sound but not the insect that it comes from.
The cicada sat on my jacket for several minutes. Seth noted he had never seen one land on a human before and kept talking. The cicada was not moving and I, for once, didn’t go crazy over the fact that a furry 6-eyed bug with wings landed on me. After a few moments, the cicada took off, circled my back and landed directly on the other side of my jacked and stayed there for several minutes.
I knew in my heart it was a sign that Savvy was there and again, I could take a deep breath of the Wisconsin air. Thank you, Savvy!
We later planted the tree, told great Savvy stories, smudged (burned white sage) and all of us took it in with a deep breath.
Benefits of Breathing
I did a little research on the benefits of breathing and realized it offered many more benefits than I thought.
It helps you relax, lowering the harmful effects of the stress hormone cortisol on your body.
- It lowers your heart rate.
- It helps lower you lower your blood pressure.
- It helps you cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- It improves your core muscle stability.
- It improves your body’s ability to tolerate intense exercise.
- It lowers your chances of injuring or wearing out your muscles.
- It slows your rate of breathing so that it expends less energy.
I will never, ever recover from the loss of my angel, Savannah. But I will be able to move forward, one deep breath at a time.