18 July 2014

Flat on my Back

Have you ever gotten the wind knocked out of you? It's such a strange and frightening experience. It feels like an emergency, but really you'll be just fine in a minute.

When I was about nine, I was playing with a friend in the backyard. As a kid, I was always called a monkey because I could usually be found barefoot in a tree. And even at that young age I felt strongly that I was equal to my male peers and could climb as high and as fearlessly as they could (and I could).

So on this rather ordinary day, I was probably twelve feet off the ground when I somehow lost my grip. Something I thought I could trust turned out faulty and the thing my mother had always warned me about was happening: I was falling out of a tree.

I wish I could remember what it looked like. All Hollywood and slow-motion, my hands reaching out futilely as I watch the branches slip further away. I hit the ground with what I imagine was a horrifying thud and found myself gasping for air.

I don't think my friend even checked on me, she just ran into my house as fast as she could screaming, "Brooke broke her back! Brooke broke her back!" I wondered if I had.

I would guess now that the time between the thud and my mom coming out to find me starting to sit up was less than a minute, but it felt significantly longer. I laid there trying to understand what had happened. I had been in a tree, where I always felt happy and secure, but something betrayed me and down I went. In an instant I went from happy and laughing to scared and gasping.

I laid there and thought I might die. Or worse, never walk again. (As a kid who basically lived in a tree, paralysis seemed the worst possible thing.) I was so terrified.

But then, as suddenly as I'd lost it, my wind came back. All that gasping paid off, my lungs filled with air and I began to feel again. And I realized that I felt fine.

That's when I started to sit up and my mom got to me. She was so flustered; it must have been awful for her, too. Once she was sufficiently convinced that I was, for the most part, unharmed, she forbade me from ever climbing a tree again, quickly reneged, and then asked me if I wanted ice cream.

Sometimes life knocks the wind out of you. One minute you're just a happy kid in a tree and the next you're flat on your back gasping for air. I've been gasping for air all week.

When you're lying on your back, it can feel impossible that you'll ever get up again. There's no air in your lungs or energy in your limbs. You're sure you'll be paralyzed forever while the world just keeps stepping over you.

But as I metaphorically lie here on my back I am reminded of two things: The air will come back sooner than I expect and talitha cumi.

I am going to be okay. And, yes mom, I do want ice cream.


  1. Go get some ice cream on me. Love you Brookie. Mom

  2. What a great analogy...I know that feeling. Whatever's happened to knock the wind out of you, you will be ok! Sending you a hug... :)