Sun Salutation

Breathe in.  I bring my arms above my head, drawing my whole body upward as I inhale.  The spring sun warms my back and neck.  The grass feels pleasantly prickly against my bare feet.  How strange that I am out here breathing deeply, feeling my strong body move, and she is lying in a hospital bed, conscious of nothing.  A machine breathes for her.

Breathe out.  I bend from the waist and bring my hands to rest on the ground on either side of my feet, tucking my head against my knees.  When I saw her there in that bed, pale and broken, her feet, at least, looked almost as they had before.  I wonder how many times she rubbed my feet to express her love?

Breathe in.  I look up toward the house, Mom’s house, where one of my siblings is watching over my daughters.  The weather is fresh and bright and perfect, and her farm is coming alive.  I see why she loved this place.

Breathe out.  I step my feet back and move into my wobbly approximation of plank position.  As I hold, I notice a sparkle in the grass and look down.  Directly below my eyes is a single dewdrop, round and whole, reflecting the sunlight.  I stare at its shimmering perfection and treasure its depth of beauty.

Breathe in.  I push my body forward and look up, still relishing the gift of the dewdrop’s presence in precisely the place I needed it.

Breathe out.  I push my hands into the ground and come up into downward dog, and hold for several breaths.  I can never remember how many I’m supposed to hold it.  On our trip together last summer, I saw Mom doing sun salutations early one morning.  Her compact, powerful body formed a nearly perfect triangle in this pose.  I can feel that my triangle is not so perfect.  My knees bend.  My arms aren’t quite right.  But it still feels good, and I think I’m getting better at it.

Breathe in.  I walk my feet forward two steps until they are again between my hands, and look forward.  Mom always jumped.

Breathe out.  I tuck my head against my knees, looking up toward my navel, holding the rest of my body still.  I am not quite flexible enough to straighten my legs.  In this pose, she folded entirely in half, her legs straight and body tucked tight.

Breathe in.   I bring my arms above my head, drawing my whole body upward as I inhale.  The blue of the sky, the green of the grass, the crisp, sweet smell of the outdoors in spring–the vivid beauty of everything I see washes over me.  It is breathtaking.

I ache.  My heart breaks.  But the pain and surreal strangeness of this whole experience cause me to slow down, to observe, to really see.  In this moment, I am present to the world, with its shattering pain–and its wonder. She has given me this beautiful spring.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

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