You Better Breathe: Part 3

London trailed behind her family pushing her grandmother in the wheel chair as they all exited the hospital.  She watched Laerihs and her father exchange suggestions on what they felt would be best for grandma.   She secretly envied the relationship between her sister and father.  She remembered back to when they were little when she was his favorite.   When they were children Laerihs kept very much to herself, she loved to read and write, she would lock herself in their room in the summer time and keep her head glued in a book.  London on the other hand was always very athletic and into sports.  She played basketball, soccer, tennis and did gymnastics and dance.  She even played softball for a while until it started to interfere with her dancing schedule, which always took priority in her life.

Their father loved that London was into sports especially since he didn’t have a son.  He never missed one of her games, he frequented her practices and their favorite pass time was playing basketball on the hoop in their driveway.  The closest Laerihs came to athletics was when she joined the cheerleading squad and dance team in high school to boost her activities for college applications.   Her attitude sucked so she was a horrible cheerleader.  She became a living nightmare to London when she joined the dance team because she had as much rhythm as a cardboard box.  The only reason she made the team was because London was the captain and she would have never been able to explain to her parents why she didn’t put her on the team.

Everything changed their senior year of high school when Laerihs started applying to Ivy League schools with top rated medical programs and London declared she would only apply to Juilliard, Mason Gross School of Arts, Rutgers University and University of California, Berkley because of their dance programs.  Her father was furious.  Even though he always supported her extra curricular activities he always assumed they were just hobbies, he never expected her to pursue an actual career in either of them. He wanted his daughters to be doctors or lawyers, preferably one each, he never fathomed they would do anything else.  So from that moment Laerihs stole his heart and became the daughter he raised right and she became the rebellious one. Luckily for London she came from a big family because even though her father turned his nose up to her choices her grandmother, uncles and aunts supported her every step of the way.

When she got accepted to University of California, Berkley with only a partial scholarship her father refused to pay the other half of the tuition and would have no parts in assisting her to make the trip across country so her uncle Robert stepped in.   He made sure she had everything she needed to live dorm life.  He rented a U-haul and they took the three-day road trip from Connecticut to California so she could attend her dream school.   Then he supported her until she graduated and made sure he and grandma flew out to at least two of her performances each year.   Uncle Robert was her hero she didn’t know what her life would have been like if it hadn’t been for him.  She may have had to submit to her fathers demands and attended medical school with Laerihs until she couldn’t take it anymore and eventually would have probably just dropped out and ran away to pursue her dancing dreams.


You Better Breathe: Part 2

The nurse practitioner entered the room along with the CNA who was carrying the sherbet that grandma requested. The nurse practitioner was an older petite woman with salt and pepper colored hair. She had a very pleasant smile and made sure she flashed it at everyone in the room before she began to speak. The CNA handed grandma her sherbet and then quietly exited the room.

“You’re very lucky Mrs. Lewis. When you came in here last week we almost lost you.   Your blood pressure was extremely low. Luckily we were able to stabilize it. You are a very strong lady.” The nurse complemented.

“Yes, I am.” Grandma agreed. “I have treasures up in heaven god is not ready for me yet. People don’t know what I mean when I say I have treasures up there but I do.”

The nurse smiled at grandma and continued her discharge speech.

“The good that came out of your visit is we were able to discover that your cancer has come back, now we can all sit down with the doctor and discuss what your options are.”

“I’m not taking any chemo. I want to live a normal life.” Grandma repeated.

“Yes, I understand that and that is something you will want to explain to the doctor.   Sometimes the medicine can make you sicker than the disease and if you plan on living a normal life then that may be the best idea to decline the treatment.”

“See, these kids think I don’t know anything.” Grandma spout out shooting us all a look of I told you so.

“Well, mother is always right.” The nurse agreed. “So here are your discharge papers along with a list of all of your medications that you will be taking. If you don’t have any other questions for me, your appointment with the doctor is tomorrow morning at 8:15 he will be able to answer any other questions that you may think of.

“Thank you.” Grandma said assuring the nurse that she was content for now.   When the nurse left the room there was a feeling of calm that settled in.

“So this is good news right?” London asked feeling a little embarrassed about the breakdown she just had in the hall but excited that her grandmother was up in good spirits and more importantly going home now.

“Yes, this is great news.” Robert answered.

“Come here girl.” London’s father Brian said waving her over towards him.

She walked over to her father and he opened up his arms for her to hug him.

“You alright.” Brian asked her.

“I’m better now. “ London answered honestly.

“Laerihs said you were taking it hard.”

“Well Laerihs also practically started planning her funeral so how was I supposed to react?”

“I did not!” Laerihs wined.

“You did!” London snapped back.

“Ok girls not in here.” Brian interjected.

Laerihs sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes at London. “Maybe if she was home more often and not always running around dancing she would know for herself what was going on.”

“Running around dancing, really Laerihs?”

“Stop all that now!” Grandma shouted. “Don’t ya’ll girls start that nonsense in here.”

“Sorry grandma.” They said in unison.

“Ok ma lets get you out of here.” Robert said taking control then everyone got up to help pack up Mrs. Lewis’s things so she could go home.

I write from the heart

When I originally decided to start write my short stories it was because I have been feeling anxious about my writing.  I have some major things going on that I have not been able to share about my work so I needed to find another outlet thus I decided to publish my short stories online.  I put a lot of thought into what kind of stories they would be and in typical Shireal Renee fashion decided they would be love stories – a series of love stories that were all connected through the use of the same characters.  As I began writing, You Better Breathe, like most of my writing my hands took over and created something I totally didn’t expect.   The story of London’s grandmother being sick is directly related to what I am going through right now.

I never intended to write about this situation with my grandmother.  I just sat down and started writing and she was all I could think of.   So I let it out.  As I was writing my emotions took over me and I started bawling in tears.  I was crying so hard that I began to lose my breath. As I was typing the words my hands were shaking to the point that I had to stop and compose myself.   I didn’t even know how much I had been holding inside of me.  I tried to push everything that has been going on to the back of my mind because I choose to remain optimistic, accepting what the doctors and my family have been saying is not how I operate, I operate by faith, that is the only way I know how to survive.

I was afraid to publish this story because it is so close to me and frankly I have no idea how I am going to end it.  I guess I am going to have to just write blindly and let my hands lead the way.   One thing is for sure; this is my ultimate love story!  Anything dealing with my family is coming from a place of unconditional love, love without measure, all-consuming love – that is how we love each other, hardcore.

I look forward to sharing the rest of this story with you and as always I pray that you can relate and find hope and healing in my words.


You Better Breathe: Part 1

The day is finally here.  Today is the debut of my short story series.  I don’t have much to say except I really hope you enjoy it.  Without any further ado here is, You Better Breathe.


You Better Breathe: Part 1

            London sat in the hospital waiting room nervously tapping her feet against the linoleum floor while digging her nails into her arms until she broke the skin. When she noticed the speck of blood peep through her arm it sent her into an uncontrollable outburst of tears. She quickly slapped her hands over her mouth so that her screams would not ring out through the halls of the hospital. She didn’t want her family to know that she was finally beginning to face the reality that her Grandmother was…was…was…dying.

She pressed her lips together trying desperately not to screech out while continuing to hold her hands over her face. She swallowed deep. She could feel herself swaying forward like she was going to topple down face forward out of the chair.   She couldn’t stand up because her legs were too weak. She couldn’t make out what was going on in front of her because the tears blinded her sight. All she could see was the bright florescent hospital lights and specks of blue walking back and forth.

The room suddenly began to spin. She noticed more colors coming at her, red and green and yellow flashes of light zipped across the hospital halls all the while she became weaker and weaker until the colors all began to swirl together like an amusement park windmill until everything just went black.

Out of nowhere there was an ice-cold grip on her shoulders. It began to wildly shake her then she heard her uncle Robert call her name.


Robert yanked her hand from over her face and she let out a loud gasp. He pulled her up out of the chair and she collapsed in his arms taking long deep breaths in and out.   Her uncle held her tight rubbing her back softly to soothe her.

“It’s going to be ok. Just calm down.” He said in the most convincing voice.

London inhaled slowly until she finally pulled herself together. Once Robert felt that she stopped gasping for air he eased out of their embrace. London sniffled and wiped her face with the sleeve of her shirt. She knew she had had a panic attack and completely stopped breathing. She use to get them all the time when she was a kid usually when she was really afraid of something, under a significant amount of pressure or nervous but she hadn’t had one in years. She didn’t know how badly her grandmother being sick had been eating her up. She wouldn’t allow herself to accept what everyone else was saying. She refused to believe that God wouldn’t answer her prayers and heel her Grandma, she knew he could so she stayed strong and she suppressed it using the tactics that her childhood therapist taught her, taking deep breaths focusing on positive things and counting in her head. And they had been working for years all until that moment.

“Why are you out in the hall by yourself? No one even knew you were here. The whole family is in the room with ma. Laerihs got here like 20 minutes ago.”

“I just didn’t want to see her like that?” London said wiping her sleeve across her running nose again.

“What are you talking about? She’s doing good today. She’s up and laughing, she’s been waiting for you.”

London felt herself calming down. He uncle always had a way of comforting her. Even though he was the world’s greatest uncle to all of his nieces and nephews they both had a secret understanding that she was his favorite.   Even her twin sister Laerihs knew but she would never admit it. If you asked Laerihs she was everyone’s favorite especially their father’s, she could do no wrong, in his eyes she was the perfect daughter.

“Now pull yourself together, you don’t want her to see you like this.” Robert said wrapping his arm around his nieces shoulder and walking her into the hospital room.

As soon as she walked through the door she saw her grandmother’s face light up.

“Where you been?” Grandma squealed out.

At the first sight of her grandmother London was cheered up. She could not believe how good she looked. She was sitting up in the big recliner chair dressed in a black and white silk wrap shirt and a flowing black skirt and she had on her black wig that looked like the hair cut Angela Basset had in the movie Waiting to Exhale. And as always her skin was flawless.

Even though her father, sister, aunt and other uncle where there she walked straight to her grandmother first and hugged and kissed her before acknowledging anyone else.

“Hi grandma.” She smiled thinking about how much she hated getting information from her sister. Laerihs just swore she knew everything because she had just finished medical school and was accepted to do her residency at Boston Medical. She was their father’s prodigy. While London was the rebellious one who decided to go the unconventional route and pursue her dancing career. And even though London had danced for Alvin Ailey, and traveled the world as a result of her dedication to her craft her father still hadn’t considered it a real career. Every opportunity he got he insisted she get a real job.

London was convinced that the reason she had panic attacks was because of all the pressure that was always on her to live up to her older sister – by three minuets. Her father would always disagree and say London was just over dramatic. But at twenty-eight years old she had been through enough to know that she was definitely not the dramatic one of the two, she never even had a chance to be because in their father’s house the world revolved around Dr. Laerihs.

“We were waiting on you. Grandma has some news and she wouldn’t tell us until you got here. I told her you were having a moment to yourself in the hallway.” Laerihs taunted while London walked around the room giving hugs to the rest of her family.

“Ok ma, what’s the news?” Robert asked beginning to become impatient with his mother’s suspiciousness.

Grandma sat up straight in the chair, crossed her arms and spoke up in her most authoritative voice, “I’m not taking any chemo or radiation. I am getting out of this hospital and I am going to live my last days at home.”

Everyone in the room’s mouth dropped open as grandma sat straight up looking us all in the faces waiting for one of us to object to her demands. When no one could muster up the courage to disagree with her she slowly sat back in the chair, grabbed the monitor that was sitting beside her and hit the button to call for her nurse.

“How can I help you?” The nurse’s sweet voice rang through the intercom.

“Honey come bring me some sherbet.” Grandma instructed then sat back and rolled her eyes daring anyone to question her decision.

Short Stories

I’ve been having the urge to write some short stories.   My first instinct was to write them in my journal where all the rest of my ideas are but for some reason I feel like they are going to suffocate inside of a journal.   The stories I have been thinking of need to breathe the air of the world.  So after careful consideration I have decided to write them right here on!

My excitement is unbearable so I am going to start right away.  I realize publishing entire shorts will be a bit much so what I will do is break them down into series publishing them in parts or chapters at a time.  The first story will be titled, You Better Breathe. The first chapter in this story is scheduled for publishing on Tuesday July 14, 2014.   All new stories will be published on Tuesday’s, yet chapters will be published on Tuesday’s or Thursdays.

This is a new exciting venture for me that I absolutely cannot wait to share with you!  I really hope to have open interactive discussions on the story lines and topics addressed within them with you.  This will make it so much more fun.  Well, I have to go now.  I have a lot of writing to do.