by Paula Holmes-Eber
Two dusty world worn tandem bicycles,
sleeping bags snuggled
by a long loved stuffed bunny and blanket.
Outside the well traveled tent
the camp stove sputters into life,
aromas of America, Asia, Australia
floating above the laughter
of two sun browned blonde haired girls
It wasn’t always this way.
I remember another blonde haired girl
with protruding rib bones and dangling emaciated arms
wheezing, coughing, choking.
In the 1960's when I was diagnosed with asthma,
a blue lipped gasping toddler,
the helpless doctors shrugged unsuccessful suggestions --
move to the pollen free desert;
sleep upside down;
take breathing lessons,
Childhood was a blurred haze
of sleepless nights in emergency rooms,
breathless days in steamy suffocating hospital oxygen tents,
long lonely months wasting away while watching
laughing, skipping, jumping children
from my window.
It has been a long journey
traversed by miracle medicines and faith.
Terbutaline, theophylline, proventil, beclovent.
Each new discovery breathing hope into me.
Somewhere I began sleeping under the stars
instead of in oxygen tents;
taking trips to Africa rather than to the emergency room;
and cycling tens of thousands of miles
with my own laughing, skipping, jumping children
while others watched curiously from their windows.
One day, I dream
I will cycle around the world with my family.
Each mile raising another dollar for research;
Each news story about us raising the hopes of another child;
Each day raising my spirit in thanks
that those lonely impossible childhood dreams at the window--
were but reflections of a tomorrow I could not yet see.
I pack the memories into my panniers
and cycle off to a new day
pedals clicking to the rhythm of my breath.
Come the road calls. Follow me
to lollipopped cotton candied summer county fairs;
to silent snow laden mountain peaks
and windswept ocean coastlines;
to craggy castles and medieval nights;
to onion domed cathedrals and holy days;
past shouting rickshawed drivers shadowed by the Great Wall
and desolate kangarooed desert byways.
Come the way whispers. Let us share
a new hope.
Last Updated: May 1, 2006