February 2, 2011

The Breath of Life

A cold winter night darkens the room.
The night is still.
I listen intently.
Leaning over I place a hand lightly on his chest,
feeling for breath,
listening for breath,
the breath of life.
Is it still there?

My hand rises slightly.
I hear the intake of breath
then the exhale of air.
He breathes.
My heart quiets.
I drift off, dream.
Loud, gruff noises shift into the shadows of my mind.
What is this?
I bolt up beside him.
He's coughing, choking.
The breath is not coming easily.

I look on, silently praying,
silently willing him to breathe,
to live,
to stay with me,
to remain here.
I know there is nothing else I can do.
The coughing and wheezing persist.
Fear grips my heart.
He can't get the needed breath.
It's beyond his ability.
The medicine isn't helping.
I start to panic.
Seconds pass on the clock...
an eternity in my heart.
I want to do something
to help him.
I start to reach for the telephone
to call for help.
Finally, the medicine works.
The breath returns.
"I was scared," I whisper into the darkness.
He is quiet.
Concentrating on the breath.
Inhale.  Exhale.  Inhale.  Exhale.
Later, he answers me,"So was I."

He lays back on the mounds of pillows, adjusting them for maximum height.
His breathing is shallow, but constant now.
He begins to drift off to sleep.
I place my hand lightly on his chest
feeling it rise and lower slightly
with each breath.
I feel weight on my hand.
He is holding my hand.
Hand over top of hand.
"I'm OK now," he whispers.
"I know." 
Tears of relief spill down my face
wetting my pillow.
"I love you," I say.
He responds, "I love you, too."

I pray as I drift uneasily off to sleep:
"Thank you Lord for this man who shares my life, making it our life.  You are the Creator and Sustainer of life.  You make all things possible.  Thank you for Your breath of life in each of us and in our marriage that sustains and strengthens our ties of love and commitment.  Breathe Your life into the depths of our marriage, giving Your breath to every element of our lives.  May our marriage exude You, radiating Your glory.  Amen."

An brief explanation:  My husband has had severe asthma most of his life.  It is a condition controlled with several medications, and normally does not affect his day to day activities.  Only twice in the many years I have known him, has his breathing gotten this bad.  The night I recounted in the above post occurred two winters ago.  The other time occurred before we married and resulted in a trip to the hospital.

This post has been shared for Walk with Him Wednesdays at A Holy Experience
Today's topic is The Practice of Marriage.


  1. I'm surprised you are able to share that poem. It's so deeply personal. Scary. Two times sounds like two too many for these scary moments to be happening.


  2. beauifully written. thank you for sharing!

  3. Your blog post touched me so deeply it made me cry a very hard, can't swallow because I have a ball in my throat cry. The love you have for your marriage is beautiful. May God bless you both.

  4. What a beautiful and scarey post! BLessings to you both!

  5. Beautiful poem, in spite of the painful night it must have been.

    It is the greatest comfort to know that God is present in all circumstances! Praying that your dh's asthma stays at bay for a long long time.


  6. Wow, this is incredibly powerful. My mom has severe asthma and I remember the times she really needed her inhaler and how scary that was. I hope sharing the fear has made it bearable as you went through these challenging episodes.

  7. What a great ability to tell a story without overwhelming the reader. I could picture my husband and I in your places, and my husband has never had a breathing problem. Thank you for sharing the experience.

  8. I came over from Ann’s today – takes a while to read all the posts :)

    I am touched by the reading. I heart your words – first quiet as a soft snow – then like a turbulent thunderstorm – then calm like a glass sea.

    Thank you.

    God Bless and Keep

    God Bless you and your hubs and your marriage

  9. I can only imagine how scary that must have been for you!

    The words and the pictures really come together well. Very beautiful!



Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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