When I was in high school, I volunteered at a camp for kids with Cystic Fibrosis. Each summer was an amazing experience because these young, beautiful souls came together and spent time enjoying themselves in the company of others living with CF. No questions were asked. No explaining needed to be done. They were just free to be kids at camp.
The counselors were known as “Thumpers,” because we were trained to administer a therapeutic practice, known as thumping: a rhythmic pounding with cupped hands over different areas of the chest to loosen phlegm, and aid in breathing. Some of the kids were so tiny it was hard to imagine accomplishing this task. Think of playing a carefully orchestrated drum solo on a small child.
We didn’t tap on them. We thumped.
In the mornings, the halls of the buildings were filled with the collective sound of thumping and coughing. Rhythmic beats, eliciting breath and life.
We took thumping very seriously and I remember my arms getting so tired I thought they would fall off, but the spirit of why we were there made anything possible. The kids spoke openly about death and possessed an incredibly deep understanding of the finite quality and fragility of life. There was no guarantee that they would return the next summer. (more…)