Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Two Year Anniversary in Cuenca!

Two years ago today we landed in Cuenca, Ecuador with four overstuffed suitcases after a whirlwind three months of preparation and on the heels of our youngest son's wedding. What a relief it was to arrive at our condo and breathe a sigh of relief. I also remember thinking, This is going to make a great story someday! 

Thanks to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Stress for printing our story...

Just Breathe

     “Have you seen the wedding list?” I asked my husband. 
     “Nope… haven’t seen it,” Mark answered. 
     As I shuffled through the stack of papers on the kitchen table, my elbow brushed 
against the “Have a Nice Day” mug, spilling the creamy mocha concoction onto the 
newly cleaned carpet. Too paralyzed to breathe, I felt a tear trickle down my cheek, 
followed by another and another, until they fell beneath my hands onto the pile of bills 
and receipts.     
     It was too much! Our son was getting married in three weeks; we had out-of-town 
guests who needed a place to stay; and we were selling our house, and packing up thirty-
five years of marriage in preparation for a move to Cuenca, Ecuador --our retirement 
     While I sat with my head in my hands, the phone rang beside me. “Yeah, what do 
you want?” I answered, without thinking. 
    “It’s Kathy -- your best friend -- remember me?” came the reply. “Are you okay? 
     You sound like you’re having a crummy day.” 
     It had been weeks since I heard the voice of my dear friend and I could tell she 
was genuinely concerned. 
    Kathy and I hadn’t connected in weeks and she was calling to cheer me up. 
   “I’m sorry, but it’s just so overwhelming,” I blubbered. “There’s so much to do 
and not enough time!” As I shared my fears about our house not selling, out-of-town 
guests arriving with no place to stay, and a house littered with boxes for an overseas 
move, I heard Kathy exhale a sigh. 
   “Whoa, girl… you need to take a deep breath!” she said. “Would you like to meet 
for lunch? I have time this week. I can even meet you halfway.” 
    Before I had a chance to respond, Kathy reminded me to practice breathing. “Heehee-
huu… shallow breaths and blow,” she prompted. “I’m a Lamaze instructor -- remember?” 
   “How could I forget?” I blurted into the phone. “But I’m not having a baby!” 
   “No, but you’re losing one,” Kathy replied softly. 
    A lump formed in my throat when I realized that not only were we moving to 
another continent, but our baby was getting married. As soon as I placed the phone in its 
cradle, I realized that breathing is how I made it through labor. It helped me focus on 
something other than the pain. And just maybe it could help with a wedding and a move! 
   Hee-hee-huu, I practiced. “Breathe in energy… exhale stress,” I told myself. 
 “Shallow breaths and blow!” 
   Over the next couple of days, I practiced breathing while I packed up boxes, 
prepared for a wedding shower, and “labored” through thirty-five years of memories. 
Night after night, I stayed up until 3:00 a.m., scanning important documents, family 
photos, and memorabilia, but I didn’t feel stressed. The breathing exercises were 
   I started to feel slightly better on the third day when I could actually breathe in 
deeply without clutching my chest for more air. The wedding plans were going smoothly 
and we finally had an offer on our home that we could both live with. It looked like we 
were going to have a wedding and a move to Ecuador after all. As I started to take in a 
cleansing breath, the phone rang. 
   “I have good news and bad news,” announced the realtor. “The new owners want 
to move in and settle over the Memorial Day weekend!” 
   “They want what?” I protested. “I mean they can’t. That’s the wedding weekend!” 
I shouted into the phone. “I have guests coming from California and they need a place to 
stay. It’s simply not going to work out.” 
   Our realtor stood firm. “The new owners need to settle by the end of the month 
and it’s in your best interest to do so,” she said. 
   After the phone call, I knew what to do. Hee-hee-huu, I practiced. “Breathe in 
energy…exhale stress,” I told myself. “Shallow breaths and blow!” 
   Over the next several weeks, I had more opportunities to practice my Lamaze, 
including when I found out the box labeled “wedding” accidently got sent to the 
incinerator instead of the church. But all was forgiven when the bride and groom danced 
up the aisle for the first time as husband and wife. When it came time for the mother-
groom dance --I breathed through that too, making sure I didn’t hyperventilate during the 
four minutes and thirty seconds of our song. The wedding was a success and so was the 
   It’s been over a year since the kids said “I do” and we arrived at our retirement 
destination in Ecuador, the land of “eternal springtime” and siempre maƱana (always 
tomorrow). I rarely have to use my Lamaze breathing anymore, except for the other day 
when a taxista (taxi driver) slammed on his brakes for a pack of llamas crossing the 
street. As we slid into the intersection, my husband grabbed my arm and whispered in my 
ear, “Just breathe!” 

Until next time...hasta luego!


Patty Grimm said...


I love your writing. What a wonderful story. It reminds me of what we all have gone through to arrive where we are now -- in the land of eternal spring!

God bless, and keep writing!

Connie Pombo said...

Thanks, Patty! It's hard to believe it's already been two years -- seems like yesterday. This weather reminds me of the day we arrived -- beautiful blue skies with billowy white clouds.

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