Monday, April 18, 2011

Breathing Lessons

written by Stephie Goldfish

Today, I have both sliding glass doors open to let in fresh air. The doors open to a sunny view of the garden and I hear the water bubbling in the fountain.

I lay down after having wanted to write. I had gotten discouraged after I told my sister, Kim, not to read aloud. She, at the same time I was going to write, had wanted to read aloud from the Bible, Psalms 83:1-18. But I got upset.

“Don’t read out loud,” I said, “It will distract me from what I want to write!”

So I ended up lying down, and my sister went to the other room to read.

I felt bad.

“What have I got to say that’s more important than Jehovah God?” I thought.


Lately, when I lie down and try to sleep, my breathing has become labored. I start making sounds, as I am closer to sleep, which sounds like someone crying, or more like dying.

Last night, Kim woke me up and she was scared to death.

“Steph, you need to put on your oxygen!" she said. "You’re scaring me the way you’re breathing. It’s the worse I’ve ever heard you breathe. It’s worse than grandma’s used to be, and it’s worrying me.”

“Would you like me to get your oxygen tubing for you?” she asked.

And she went right away to get it for me, cleaning off the area with alcohol that goes into my nostrils. I immediately felt relief, and my breathing was quieter, and I no longer made gasping sounds.


Today, as I lay down, I was back to my normal labored breathing and making sounds, as if I wanted to cry. And something reminded me of my brother, Michael. When I was there with him at his deathbed he was breathing laboriously, making the same sounds similar to mine.

I opened my eyes, and felt a little sad, and wondered if this is a sign of impending death.

One moment, while I was with Michael, his nurse had come in and tried to make him more comfortable. And I asked her about Mike’s position of his arms and hands. I worried whether or not they were in a comfortable position.

And his nurse said, “He likes to keep his hands and arms in that position,” but she didn’t know why.

He had his arms folded on his chest. One of his hands was up around his neck, and was pushing on the area around his esophagus. It seemed this was helping him to breathe easier.


I continued lying down, and my breathing became once again labored.

So, I thought of going to put on my oxygen cannula, but felt too tired to even move. I immediately thought of trying to do what Mike had done, and I positioned my hands near my throat and esophagus, and I pushed in. I at once felt relief. My heavy labored breathing stopped.

I quieted down, and felt peaceful. I could easily breathe now.

I thought of Mike and how he must have been trying to get air and find comfort and relief from the gurgling sounds and pressure on his lungs and heart.

And this revelation comes as a sad note to my heart and soul.

Am I slowly dying, in a real physical way, as we all are dying, really, in a physical way?

But this scares me too. I know that there are things that will help me to live longer, and help me have a more quality of life.


I got up to write this down.

Kim came in from where she had been reading. She began making her another German hotdog.

And, in her sardonic sense of humor, trying to break the ice after our breach, said, “Van Gogh at Saint-Rémy!”

I breathed a sigh of relief, and we both began laughing out loud.

Sharing a PlayDate with Laura over at The Wellspring

The Wellspring
Also, linking up with Cheryl over at Culture Smith Consulting in her Simplify Journey.

Culture Smith Consulting

Friday, April 8, 2011

Building Upon a Solid Foundation

written by Stephie Goldfish

Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.

As children, our Aunt Velva taught us all how to make a church out of our hands. We'd clasp our hands together, then pull up our two pointer fingers to make the steeple, open our thumbs as if opening church doors, and then, while hands still clasped, twist them up and move all our fingers to reveal “all the people”.

This lesson is simple: God’s fellow workers, his people, are his temple.

Although the place of worship I attended growing up was not called “church”, but called Kingdom Halls, I knew that it wasn’t the actual building or actual place that gave me a sense of place or belonging, it was the friends or people.

Because of moving so many times in our young childhood and adulthood, having a place to call home or being attached to one specific place, seemed odd. My twin sister and I attended sixteen different schools from first grade through twelfth grade. We each of course had a built-in best friend, so adjusting made it easier for us.

The main reason for our adjusting, though, was that we were taught about God and his loving ways from the time we were babies.

This education about God and his righteous principles was the only constant we had in our lives. We learned how to pray from an early age, read the bible, and give demonstrations from the bible, and tell others in the ministry about our faith. Most everywhere we moved, when we were older, our mom asked those who shared full-time in the ministry to study the Bible with us, and we developed very close relationships with these different ones.

When we were little, my sister and I got into fights, as siblings do, but our mom, instead of punishing us, she, instead, made each of us read a story from a book about the life and ministry of Jesus, and we’d read the corresponding scriptures from our own personal copy of the Bible. After we’d both finish, mom would have each of us tell the other what we learned, and then we hugged and made up.

We grew up without a father, and sometimes we’d cry and say we wished we could have a dad. Our mom instilled in us a deep love for God helping us to see that He is our heavenly father.

However, not always having a consistent place to rest our head, sometimes was wearisome. Sometimes we stayed with our grandmother in her small one bedroom apartment, and although she loved us very much and we loved her, it was hard to be all over the place at times throughout our lives.

And when we moved we couldn’t always take all of our belongings, so we never grew attachment to things.

I think also we grew accustomed to saying goodbye to others knowing that we may not ever see them again. We grieved in our own way, because sometimes we never even had a chance to say goodbye.

Although, I don’t have a physical family of my own with children, I am learning to love what I do have, and not focus on what I don’t have, and focus on now and tomorrow.

I have recently, through Facebook, been in contact with some of my relatives whom I have not seen in such a long time. This has brought a sense of belongingness, rootedness, knowing that those who’ve known me as a babe still care about my well being, as I do theirs.

I am learning to be grateful for the advantages I did have growing up. It was adventurous sometimes. It made me less scared of new things, places, and people. We experienced so many things that it made us more open and understanding.

Someone once told me and my sister that we’d be good missionaries, because of all the places we traveled and the people we met, and because of being adaptable to various circumstances.

So, I think that what keeps someone who has lived and grown up in one “place” having a sense of rootedness and belongingness, would be the same for those who have lived in multiple places. It requires building a spiritual foundation, relying on our heavenly father for strength and guidance, becoming familiar with comforting Bible passages. Learning its truths and principles are important, because God’s laws and principles are universal, and will guide us through the most difficult times of our lives when the storms of life hit us.

This post was prompted by a question my friend
Jennifer asked me after I commented on her story There's No Place Like Home over at The High Calling.

What about you? If you or someone you know is in a similar position, what do you feel works to create a sense of "place" and "belonging," even while on the move?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Black Bird At Day Break

written by Stephie Goldfish

Black bird at day break
You talk and you talk

What time is it?

Time to examine my life
and realign it to what
I know is morally and
spiritually correct

Black bird at noon, at midday,
You talk and you talk

What do you see?

I look to the future
in order to see how
my current behavior
will affect it

Black bird at evening, at night-time
You talk and you talk

What path do I take?

Now's the time to be
that better person
I know myself
to be

Black bird at day break
You talk and you talk

Time to walk the way of life
I was meant to walk

Saturday, April 2, 2011

When Someone Is Dying

written by Stephie Goldfish
What do you say to someone who’s dying; he who’s passing from the earthly over to the heavenly realm?
I tried to find some words that were comforting or at least appropriate for something as major as Death.
I have never been before someone in their final hours, except the time my Grandmother died, yet I was out in the lobby with my mother when my Grandmother took her final breath, with my twin sister and aunt by her bedside.
I fumbled out, “It’s OK, Mike,” and “We love you, Mike.”
I prayed silently, as well as openly with him. I, even in my anxious, nervous way, asked him, “Mikey, you want to watch the latest news on CNN (he was always up on the latest Breaking News headline), and I laughed inside at the silliness of such a question when he was going through a most pure and lofty event as his final hours.
My twin sister and mother had been there before he died, but my mother couldn’t bear to see her first born like he was, so my twin sister took my mother back home.
I can’t believe I was there when he spoke his last words and that I was the last earthly creature to hold his hand, to kiss his forehead when he was ready to pass over to the hands of God.
He formed words trying to tell me some things, like when he said, “Maw maw.”
Were others there too; to assist him in this Rebirth, this shedding of the earthly life into a New Life? It made me feel as if he could see our Grandmother right there in front of him.
Is this how it is in the end; like so many think; our passed loved ones waiting for us in order to welcome us into eternity with the One?
I’d rather believe this than not. I do know that this earthly life is not all there is, and God is infinity, and we are made in His image.
Mike had asked me several times during his last hours for the time. And, as the first morning light began making things clearer and clearer, I would let him know the hour, the day, and made sure to remind him it was the first day of spring. I painted a vivid picture of the view outside his French glass doors which opened onto a veranda that overlooked the Ohio River and the new span bridge that goes over into Proctorville, Ohio. The sky had grown silver over the night, but it was still a beautiful view, and the birds were singing a new song.

Michael took his last long exhalation at approximately 8:30 that Sunday morning. And as simple as death can appear to be, he went peaceful as most people say happens at death.
About four weeks before, Michael had hopes of seeing another spring. When I first heard this, I wrote a poem thinking of Michael, but also about the last stage of our life here on earth, when we move from the winter season of death to the spring season of Life Everlasting.
Yes, Michael lives to see another spring.

Another Spring
written by Stephie Goldfish

He's grown dry, like in
the winter season when
dead trees fall down.
Just as a desert that is
barren of water, his tears
have all dried up. Like a
river bed emptied after
a drought, it's hard to
swallow and wash away
his pain. His heart has grown
cold without the warmth
of nurtured love, just as
the land lays destitute
and vegetation becomes
scanty after the harvest
has been reaped. Like a
forest in flames, his nostrils
breathe fire from the burning
air. Yet, relief comes to him
with the blossoming of
a new Spring, when the snow
and ice has melted away
the cold and bitterness
of his heart, and rivers of Life
flow through him once again.

Today I am sharing this poem and story and linking up with Cheryl over at Culture Smith Consulting. I've been away for a few weeks, but I am happy to be back.
Culture Smith Consulting