I watch as you stretch in your sleep,
muscles flexing under skin whose scars I kissed moments earlier.
You sigh deeply and I watch the rise and fall of the chest
where my head often comes to rest.
There is peace in these sheets
sleep makes us vulnerable.
There is comfort in the calm and constant
of your breathing.
We are home here.
Let the world wait outside our door.
We are busy building a life out of sleepy glances and soft kisses.
We breathe together,
in and out.
My breaths start to slow as I feel you match yours to mine.
My racing thoughts quiet as you stop shaking.
Two panicked people longing for home,
two pairs of sick lungs breathing peace into each other.
when the bullshit gets to be too much
see your cue and step in.
And with your wisdom
and your words
remind me of my strength
as you nudge me back out into the arena
like the matador that I am.
I’ve been away from home or in the hospital since August.
In a city that’s not mine.
In a body weakened from surgery,
trying to trick it into believing the lungs inside of it are it’s own.
In a schedule dictated by medications and clinics.
I was promised freedom with new lungs.
I’m free from the oxygen
But after all this….
I want more.
When does that start?
My lungs were suffocating me.
What was left of me.
Double lung transplant or death.
But what kind of choice is that?
It’s not a choice.
But I made it anyway,
at twenty three.
I wasn’t done with life yet.
So now someone else’s lungs breathe for me.
My old lungs are gone.
So is the need for oxygen.
But my identity…
I’m just getting that back.
I was a muted version of myself when I was suffocating.
But now I can breathe
so I’m going to live loud and with surround sound.
Cassandra Justine Grisdale was born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada. She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a fatal genetic disease which primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. Growing up, she travelled across the country speaking about CF and raising awareness for different organizations such as Cystic Fibrosis Canada, the Children’s Wish Foundation, and the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. She developed an interest in video editing during her high school years and went on to be involved in the production of several short films that received local and national attention. She started her personal blog in November of 2014 where she posts her photography, personal essays, and poetry. She currently works as a freelance video editor. Cassandra is 24 years old and lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.