By Griffin Beth
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a longer story that is featured at thebucketministry.org. Use the QR code to locate the story online.
Wednesday morning, 4:00 AM. I wake up freezing. A cold film of sweat covers my body. It feels like I slept on a bed of ice chips. I’m shivering violently. I sit up and my clothes hang heavy over my shoulders and around my waist as if I had just stepped out of a pool. Pellets of sweat pour down my face. My mouth smacks of salt. I throw the sheets off and they land with a wet thud on the tile floor. I try to get out of bed, but my legs and arms don’t respond. I collapse back onto the mattress.
What is happening?
I desperately try to summon all the strength from whatever hidden reserve I might have in my body, but I now fail to even lift my head from the pillow. A barbed feeling of panic shoots through my stomach. I try to take a breath to calm myself but find I can barely force enough air into my body to remain conscious. It feels like a lead block is sitting on my chest. My throat is so choked from swelling that whatever air I can draw in whistles into and out of my body. My lungs feel deflated. I try to call out to my wife, Sheri, in desperation but nothing—except that sharp whistle—comes out.
Somehow, I manage to muster the last vague whispers of strength in my arms to push myself off the bed and onto the floor. I land in a kneeling position with one hand clutching a wet ball of the fitted sheet. Sweat seeps from between my fingers. With no hope otherwise, I turn to God. I pray for breath. I pray for calm. I pray for Sheri to wake up. And, failing those things, I pray for deliverance—that I might soon hear that beautiful phrase: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Having squared myself with God and made peace with the reality of my fate, I let out one last brittle, broken cry to Sheri. It sounds hoarse, like gas exploding out of a crushed exhaust pipe. With all my energy and strength spent, I fall backwards onto the tile. It feels warm and strangely comforting.
Just then, as my vision is fading in and out, and the last weak vapors of air leave my lungs, I see a blurred figure throw open the door. It’s Sheri! She rushes over to me and props me back up against the bed and then, in a frenzy, digs through my pack to find the nebulizer medicine. My eyelids slowly sag and all I see is the dim silhouette of her strapping the nebulizer mask to my face and brushing the cold sweat from my brow…