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Breathless

As told to Chanie Spira

The note promised an exciting trip toHunterMountainwith a tantalizing bonfire at dusk. Fear stopped me from smilingly signing the permission slip. I found it difficult to peer into my daughter’s innocent eyes and see their pleading. I stalled: “I’ll ask Tatty as soon as he comes home from Maariv.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

cliff climbI hated these conversations. A heroine, my Rina’la. How many of her classmates knew of the constant fear that accompanied Rina even in her sleep? Did any of her teachers ever feel their chest constrict and breathing become ragged because of an extra jump or two? Were words like steroids, inhaler, and asthma attacks part of their lexicon?

And now this trip, an outdoor one at that.

I longingly thought of Rina’s carefree classmates clutching haphazardly signed slips, buying some goodies, and carelessly climbing the bus for a fun-filled day. If Rina were to go, along would go her inhaler, and along would trudge my worry. The outdoors, which beckons others with opportunity, is treacherous territory for a severely asthmatic 12-year-old — particularly in spring. But how could I deprive Rina some youthful exuberance?

  *

“Your inhaler?”

“Yes.”

“Nosh?”

“Yes.”

With a wave and a heartfelt prayer I watched my daughter board the bus.

AtopHunterMountain, the world around them shrank. Riding the chairlift, the exuberant sixth-graders watched their feet dangle into vast nothingness, and stared at the surrounding mountain range.

Suddenly, Rina’s lungs filled with fire. They constricted, and her chest scorched. She wanted to yell, shout, but all she could do was fight for each breath. Rina groped inside her jacket for her inhaler. Where was it? Panic made it hard to think. 

 

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