O X Y G E N

She stopped fighting in the winter of 1875 though she wasn’t dead by standard definitions. Scientific I mean.


In fact, the only relationship she’d been able to hold onto was with Oxygen and that was only because she didn’t need to put in any effort. It was a careless one-sided affair.

There’s an old black and white photo of her with a solemn expression that hangs in the hallway next to a chalkboard that was once intended for children. Once upon a time it asked one question and introduced one word each day but words have been crossed out and replaced with knock knock jokes and the only question remaining which has stood the test of time asks, “How do you want to feel?” It probably remains because of the jokes that have been conjured at the expense of her photo.

They’ll remember her and the question when they’re adults because they’ve connected her to an emotion and a memory. Maybe I’ll need to wait until then to ask them the other questions, the ones about how they’ve designed their lives and whether it matches their answer to that question but my hope of course is they’ll have it figured out by then.

I’m not sure if they’ll remember her without the question but maybe that’s a good thing. We can’t force people to fight limitations falsely placed on them nor can we teach them how to scream through the pain but it’s helpful to remember that we’re breathing the same Oxygen and are therefore susceptible to inhaling the same lies and of swallowing our sorrows in silence.

It’s always helpful to pose the question even if others don’t understand the context or have no answer because wherever there is a How there is a Dream and wherever there is a Dream there is Hope and wherever there is Hope there is a Life waiting, dying to Create.

She grew up oppressed, a cotton picker hated by her sisters, raped by her father and riddled with disease before dying in her thirties. She was my great grandmother several times over.

Oxygen never asked How which is why she first died in the non-scientific way, why her expression was solemn, why the children will remember her by that question but not quite understand why.

We must do better and ask the questions no one asked those before us. We must seek our own answers and then pose them in different ways again and again to current generations because it was never intended that our relationship with Oxygen be one-sided.

We are here to breathe love into one another