The house was quiet when, they got home from brunch. Josh must still be sleeping, Jenn thought as she threw in a load of laundry. Then she checked the answering machine. Her mom had called to say that her friend Mary had seen Jenn on the news. Guess this is my fifteen minutes of fame. Jenn smiled. Then she was immediately ashamed for being arrogant and admonished herself, I didn’t set out today to be on the news but to do the work of the Lord.

She climbed the beige-carpeted stairs to check on her teenager. His was the middle bedroom, adjacent to the kids’ bath. She tapped quietly. No answer. Opening the door slowly, she peered into the dark room and immediately a foul stench hit her.

After her eyes adjusted, she saw the cause: vomit speckled the side of Josh’s navy-blue comforter, ending in a puddle on the ground. Oh, poor honey, Jenn thought. He’d entirely missed the garbage can she had left in the night. Dead asleep, likely he hadn’t even noticed he’d been sick.

Fortunately, he was on his side, so she wasn’t worried that he’d inhaled his vomit.

She went to the bathroom to get washcloths and towels to wipe up the mess. As she approached the bed, she said, “Josh, it’s Mom. You threw up while you were sleeping. I’m going to wipe you down.”

He didn’t stir. She rubbed the damp terry cloth against his slack mouth. No movement.

“Josh,” Jenn said a little louder, her pulse speeding up.

She shook him gently and then urgently. “Josh!” He didn’t respond.

“Josh!” Jenn yelled and shook him hard. His head flopped back and forth. His breathing was shallow. A wave of adrenaline shot through her body, putting every cell of her body on high alert.

“Josh, wake up!”

Dear God, help my son. Jenn ran to the wooden banister overlooking the living room and called for her husband. “Steve!” Her voice was ragged and sharp, pushing down the rising force of hysteria. Without waiting for an answer, she rushed into her bedroom, grabbed the cordless receiver, and dialed 911. Pick up. Pick up. Pick up!

“Hello, what is your emergency?” the dispatcher asked.

“My son,” Jenn spoke in a rush. “He isn’t breathing very well, and he won’t wake up.”

“What’s your address?” the dispatcher asked calmly.

“Forty-four ninety-nine Sparrow Court, Dublin, California, 94568,” Jenn replied. “Off Hawk way.”

How long has he been unresponsive?”

“I don’t know. We just got home.”

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