Like Breath, Like Doors

By Anne McGrath

May 13, 2019

Like Breath, Like Doors

I woke in 3 a.m. darkness to what sounded like a barking seal. It was my husband—teeth chattering, too weak to stand, and too confused to speak. I called 911 and paramedics arrived to find him gasping for air at 107 degrees. I didn’t know a person could be that many degrees. We wouldn’t find out about the septic shock or burst appendix until later, in the ER. 

Did the seven EMS workers see a multi-faceted person—father, musician, animal-lover— or simply failing vitals? Someone in big boots sprang into action delivering rib-cracking compressions. 

My eyes didn’t know where to land. Not on my convulsing husband. Not on my shaking son. Not on the poodle begging for reassurance. I settled on the bedroom’s crystal doorknob. So many angles catching light. The cool, greasy feel. The faint patina of rust on the skeleton key perfectly parked in the keyhole. A debt is owed to doorknobs. So necessary to the working of doors, so underappreciated until one breaks.

Love—never and always the simple things. Like breath. Like doors.

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