I shut the door and turn off the light. Only the light from the computer screen gleams through the dark while I catch my breath, my only connection to life, the life I preserve and maintain. The breath I am now conscious of, a breath I do sustain: an artificial intervention marks the loss of human autonomy, the soul and the machine.
It is an austere sound, yet calm, warm, and spiritual. I have never thought about my breath before, nor paid attention: then I recognized. Once, we were calmly gathered for the meeting, one at the “Art.” Students and faculty sat together and shared stories, their foes, love and death, fear and bravery: a breath to seal our consciousness. Now I remember it.
Our soul is like a breath; God is like a breath; wind is Nature’s breath. I breathe, thinking about life, sorrows, happiness, and death. I close my eyes and imagine their smiles, their faces, their eyes. They melt into one another, yet their breath is one: simply following my breath gives me so much perspective, so many dimensions. Indeed, measuring space and depth, I use one word: breath.
It is the first function, and it is the last; it is the entrance of our soul into this world, and it is the way out. Breath can be easy or it can be hard; it is calm or it is furious; it can be soft or grating; it is short and fast, it is long and paused. One breath… a life…
It is time to open my eyes, turn on the light, and exit this call-room. As I walk down the hallway, my thoughts return to my daily business and bustling activities. I don’t want to forget though; I want to remember the breath of life.
I enter “The Room,” where lights are on, where people are sitting and chatting. My hand turns the knob and the level of sound moves to about “5.” I want to remember. As “You,” my patient, are about to stop breathing, I turn on the ventilator. I hear your breath going away, and then a new breath starts.
With your breath gone, another one started, I breathe again myself.
“You” are keeping me alive.
The author graciously thanks Rachel Remen, M.D., Kenneth Sapire, M.D., Rachel Lynn, M.D., Laura Morrison, M.D., and all the wonderful students from the Healer’s Art.