I don’t get scared easily. Besides, the first time it happened, I didn’t realize anything scary was happening; I was just so tired.

It was Sunday, so I didn’t have to go to work, but my husband woke me at seven. “I need to go daven,” he apologized. “Can you get up?”

But I couldn’t. “I don’t feel well,” I muttered. I couldn’t even open my eyes.

“Okay,” he said, uncertainly. “I’ll daven later.” I was already sleeping.

When he woke me again, I was shocked. Eleven-thirty? It feels like I didn’t sleep at all. But he had missed every minyan, and the kids were dismantling the apartment, so I got up. I had to sit while I got dressed, and after lifting my arm to pull it through my sleeve, I had to rest for a minute before I raised my second arm.

My husband locked himself in the back room with his tallis and tefillin, and I staggered to the couch.

Something is wrong.

Maybe I was dehydrated. I pushed myself into a sitting position. The kitchen was in sight. I would drink a ton of water and then I’d feel better.

“Sara, come help Mommy walk to the kitchen.” I heaved myself up.

I need my five-year-old to help me walk to the kitchen.

I fell onto a kitchen chair. Too weak to sit, I slumped onto the table.

“Avi!”

Was that my voice, so thin and weak? I sent Sara to call him, but the door was locked. The cordless, incredibly, was within reach; I called his cell phone, but of course it was off.

I called my neighbor. “I don’t feel good,” I muttered, unable to articulate anything more. “Can you take me to the doctor?”

She was there within minutes. “Can you walk to the car?”

“No,” I whispered.

The house was full of EMTs and beeping machines and radio static when my husband resurfaced. I saw his shock and confusion, saw my neighbor talking rapidly, saw him pulling clothes out of the dryer and dressing the kids. They carried me out on a stretcher.

My poor, beautiful children are going to wear crumpled, mismatched clothes forever.

I’d heard stories of outrageously long waits at the ER, but when we got there, a crowd of doctors and nurses descended on me immediately. My heart rate, normally 60 to 80 beats per minute, was up to 180; two doctors argued about electrical defibrillation versus a drug. I waved my hand.

“The drug.” The words came out in a gasp.

The drug was injected. It burned rapidly through my arm to my heart, then the burning spread outward, like lighting crackling all around.

My heart stopped,

my breath vanished,

the world fell away,

away,

away,

and then it came rushing back, like a thousand locomotives, the repetitive thundering too fast, too fast, too fast.

The doctor watched the screen, shook his head. “Try again.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 571)