I ran up the hill before the others could follow. I held onto the leash connected to my dog. He kept me going. It’s the only way I could get up without feeling the air escape from my lungs. It gave me time to move forward without thinking. We passed families carrying down Christmas trees, I leaned against the side of the path. I refused to give in to the lack of oxygen, not until I had time to get it back, not until I was at the top. We round the bend. I collapse (sit) on a dirt hill. My lungs struggle to find air. I smile. I made it to the top and now I can rest.