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Counting Breaths

by Jennifer L. Brinkley

I tiptoe into your room
To count your breaths at night.
That's when I pray over you, worry over you, cry over you-
When I check your face to see the ways it changed from yesterday.
So many of our yesterdays blur together, 
A filmstrip with no sound and no clear edits.
I remember us at the beach, smiles warm in the sunshine.
The moment I had to let go of your seat, your laughter flying behind as you 
pedaled against the wind.
The days you wore pink, just for me.
It's not always easy to feel strong when your body is fighting so hard.
It's sometimes difficult to be encouraged when you are so unsure of the next 
But then your little arms squeeze my slender waist, your lips chill my hot cheeks, 
your voice whispers, "It will be okay, Mommy."
From the mouths of babes comes God's wisdom.
I smooth your blanket, tuck your foot back in, watch your chest rise and fall.
I am not sure when our filmstrip will unspool,
But I do know each frame held the best our lives could be.
We stood together, we cheered each other on, we celebrated blessings in the 
face of adversity.
We chose hope.
That's our story.
Promise to remember it for all of your breaths, 
however many there may be.

Jennifer L. Brinkley is a lawyer, professor, and writer in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Her poetry has previously been published in Handful of Dust Magazine, The Blue Pen Literary Magazine, Still Here: VLP Magazine, The Notebook: a progressive journal about women & girls with rural & small town roots, and issue, and Zero Literary Magazine in Paris, France. She has also had nonfiction works published in newspapers in Lexington and Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Jennifer wrote this piece for her friend Samantha, a breast cancer survivor.