As soon as I see her door, my hands start trembling. It’s barely cracked. Neither open and welcoming as usual, nor closed and definitive. I hold my breath and slowly press the door open.
The room is warm and the lights are low. Even before my eyes can adjust to the darkness, I am reassured by the rhythmic chuff-and-whoosh, chuff-and-whoosh of the oxygen concentrator. I search the bed as if I’m a nervous new mother and she’s my sleeping infant. I mentally will her chest to rise and fall. Her breathing, slight and shallow, is now almost entirely sustained by the air puffing through the tiny tubes that snake around her throat and ears. The two little vents at the end are askew, again. Only one of them meets her nostril. I reach over, hesitate, and then gently reposition the nubby straws, both not wanting and wanting the end.
Kelly Morgan is a writer, community builder, mother, and educator whose life’s work centers on human transformation. Author of Beyond Potential, founder of The Learning Studio, and neighborhood humanitarian, Kelly is now working on a memoir about her life-changing friendship with an elderly neighbor in Evanston, Illinois who had secretly been living with the corpses of her three siblings—for years. While helping this 94-year-old woman redeem her life, Kelly also saved herself. Inspired by her neighbor’s courage, surprising optimism, and extraordinary metamorphosis, Kelly finally broke her own silence, reclaimed her life, and returned to writing after a 22-year hiatus.