Imagine… you’ve realized your floating above your body. The nurses and doctors below are starting life support and CPR. Then a flash and the most amazing bright light you have ever seen. You are drawn willingly. As you enter you know that everything is ok. You dissolve into the divine consciousness. There, just as promised in your childhood faith, Jesus awaits and talks with you. He answers all your questions and says that there is still work to be done. There is no arguing with Jesus. His love burns through your heart and then…
As if someone just punched you in the stomach, you breathe in huge gasping inhales. The cells in your body ignite and you are alive again. Your breath fills your lungs. The experience is ecstatic and painfull. Your heart pounds in your chest and head. You can feel the blood flow fed by the new fresh oxygen. Prana, Life Force, Chi, Ki, The Holy Spirit, it pulses and charges through your system. I’m alive you say and I know I’m going to live now.
This is the story of Lee, a living angel in my view who said that the most valuable thing to him about being alive today is his breath. Despite having one of the rarest forms of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer, spending a year every two weeks in the hospital receiving “the nuclear bomb of chemotherapy”, and experiencing heart failure three times, this man was more alive than anyone I have ever met in my life.
With a strong British accent and black as night he approaches me at the playground where I have brought my daughter. I step back at first feeling unsure of this stranger and his unwavering friendly nature.
“Hello, how are you?” He says boldly and directly but very upbeat.
I look around to make sure there are other people around just in case anything happened. Of course fear is always there to keep us in check. Noticing that other parents on the playground are aware of the man I ease.
“I’m good, how are you?” I respond.
And off he goes to tell me about his year and the battle he faced with cancer. The recent stem cell transplant he had and the crazy machine that sifted the blood of his cousin and then injected the stem cells into him. The nuclear chemotherapy he received and the 3 dying experiences. The doctors, he says, still to this day react as if they are seeing a ghost when he walks into the hospital.
“Wow!” Fighting back tears and simply standing there listening to his story I say, “So, did you kick it?”
“Oh, yeah man” in his British bohemian accent. “I kicked it up here as he points to his head and I know this in here” as he presses his hands to his heart.
“But is it gone?” I asked intently. “It’s gone man. No one can believe it. But I know.”
“And let me tell you something Ms., the most valuable thing about coming back to this world is the experience of breathing again.”
Tears begin to rush down my face. I could not fight the impact this man was having on my heart and soul. Then, he looks me deeply in the eyes, smiling so big and wide and says, “It’s all about the breath”.
Being a yoga student and teacher I am familiar with this phrase as I repeat it over and over again like a mantra in my classes. “It’s all about the breath. Take a deep inhaaaaale and exhaaaaaaale. “
I’m standing there in shock. As if Jesus himself were talking straight to me.
“There is work to be done”
“It’s all about the breath”
There is life after death”
“The truth is in your heart”
My phone begins to ring and texts come through. I feel as if time stood still and I realize that it’s time to go. I say to this big beautiful black man, “It was so nice to meet you. What was your name?”
“Lee” He says. I extend my hand out to shake his. He looks, begins to laugh and says, “I’m a hugger” and proceeds to give me a giant bear hug that lifts me off the ground and as if he knew me from the inside out. I think that was the best hug I’ve ever gotten. I laugh and am totally giddy from the experience of it all. I call my daughter to prepare to leave.
As we are walking out of the playground I can see Lee out of the corner of my eye walking over to one of the curiously on looking parents.
“Hello, how are you? I hear him ask this person in his overly friendly manner. Laughing again to myself I can only hope that he shocks the love out of that person just like he did to me.
A True Story...
Yoga Student, Teacher and Lover of Life.