The pilot is on the intercom announcing our cruising altitude when Sally starts rummaging through her seat pocket looking for a barf bag.
“I need a bag, I’m feeling sick,” my wife says. She leans back in her seat. I quickly find a bag in my seat pocket and hand it to her, but she doesn’t take it. A bit perturbed, I nudge Sally’s arm, but she still doesn’t respond. When I look up, I see her ashen face staring blankly into space; her mouth gaped open as if she has suddenly been frightened to death.
“Sally, what’s wrong?” There is no response. She just sits there frozen. My heart is pounding in my ears as I begin yelling her name and patting, no, slapping her face for signs of life.
“Sally, honey! Wake up! Sally!” my mind is frantic. People around us start taking notice that something is terribly wrong. I push the flight attendant button, but no one comes, so I push it again and again, then yelling and waving my arms for help. The feeling of helplessness overwhelms me.
I turn back toward Sally just as she comes to. She looks at me with confusion, wondering why in the world I am in her face. As the flight attendant arrives on the scene, Sally leaves me again. What is going on? Is she having a seizure, is she dying? I fumble for a pulse, but my heart is beating so loudly, it is impossible to tell if it’s her pulse or mine.
Another flight attendant runs up with oxygen, but it isn’t working, so they call for another tank. They place the mask over her nose and mouth, but I keep removing it to see if she’s breathing. Finally, the flight attendant has me move away since I am obviously hindering their efforts to help.
I hear the announcement over the intercom seeking assistance from any medical personnel on board and then I see the angel from five rows up stand up and walk toward us. Her name is Lori and she’s a nurse. She sits down next to Sally and begins checking her vitals. Low blood pressure. Clammy skin.
The flight attendants are discussing the need to divert the plane when Sally finally comes back to us, the color quickly returning to her face, but mine will take more time to recover. I’m pretty sure, I just aged a year or two. She spends the rest of the flight wearing an oxygen mask while I sit and watch her breathe. My heart slowly reboots as I see my love, my life returning in her eyes.
She’s fine now, thanks to God, Nurse Lori and two calm flight attendants. We’re chalking it up to no sleep the night before, not enough hydration and a pattern of fainting spells that occur once every 15 to 20 years.
I write this as she sleeps in bed next to me. She’s breathing and I’m grateful.