you used to hug me from behind as we slept at night, giving me all the warmth i needed.
i soon reciprocated and hugged you back when you turned to sleep on your side.
eventually we learned to sleep with our backs pressed against each other, in synchronised, rhythmic breaths.
i breathed you.
finally, i had to outgrow sleeping beside you. i had to unlearn breathing you. i had to unrecognize a rhythm i followed as my own. i have had countless sleepless nights.
lately, i'm pretty sure you've had, too.
but now, as i stand beside you yet away from you, i hear your short gasps. and i start to breathe deeply, hoping you will hear it.
you pause, inhale, and exhale as i do. you pause, inhale, and exhale as i do.
and for one brief moment, we are in rhythm again as I was when I was a child beside you, my lungs almost bursting as i wait for you to take in as much air as your big grown-up lungs can.
i still breathe you. i will help you breathe life back. and you will teach me to take in all that life can bring me, and to return what was given to me unselfishly.
breathe with me, Dad. we will remember it together. and soon we will breathe as we used to.