My chest feels like someone has been beating on it with a ball peen hammer. Like someone is trying to get in. Or get out.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Each deep breath is punctuated by face-reddening, uncontrollable coughing.
Hack. Hack. Hack.
I am sick.
Bronchitis, I think. The good doctor who loaded me up with steroids, cough syrup with codeine and antibiotics didn’t say, specifically. But he talked about reducing swelling in my lungs. Sounds like bronchitis to me.
Ancient Chinese Medicine teaches that each major organ in your body relates to an emotion. The lungs represent grief.
As I lay in bed, feeling the effects of the ever-present tapping on my breastplate, I wonder which grief has frozen my lungs.
The death of a marriage.
The disappointment of a lying boyfriend.
The literal death of my grandmother. My last living grandparent.
Grandma Banis stood next to me that summer day I pulled in more than my share of fish. She loved telling the story over the years, imitating my girlish delight with each caught-fish. “Wheeee!”
She taught me to sew, a meticulous taskmaster who still managed to make it fun. I remember scouring through patterns and fabrics with her for hours. Picking blouse and skirt patterns that would be easy enough. Choosing different fabrics so that once I had a pattern set to my measurements, I could make it over and over.
I remember my first lesson on zippers. I think I ripped it out six times, because as Grandma said, “We don’t do no half-ass work around here, Gina.”
After that first lesson, I never ripped out another zipper. I wish all of my life-lessons were as effective as her lesson on zippers.
Grandma’s passing wasn’t a surprise. Over three years in a nursing home left her a shell of her former sassy self. I don’t like to remember her like that, and hate some of the pictures posted of her with her face sunken because the nursing home lost her teeth. I prefer remembering her with her hair just so, make-up carefully applied, smart pantsuits (that she most likely whipped up on her trusty sewing machine.)
A widow-woman for the last ten years or so, as far as I know she never dated or even entertained the notion of being involved with another man. I think she was content to wait to reunite with Grandpa Banis.
And now she has.