My friend Atta and I stumbled off the crowded bus and stood, dazed in the sickening sun. Or maybe it wasn’t just the sun that sickened…I felt terrible.
Sun or sick, it didn’t matter. We were a still a mile from home. As we trudged down the dirt road toward my little cement house, I squeezed out all thoughts but one; “another step, another step”. Over and over, mechanically, the words repeated a thousand times.
I’d been on auto pilot for the last few weeks. Culture shock was setting in, and I found it easier not to feel, not to think, just do. Blindly I fished for the hole in my mosquito netting and crawled into bed.
When my housemate Sally found me shaking with fever an hour later, she urged me to go to the hospital. “I’m fine”, I lied. “Just let me sleep”. The pain in my head was nauseating. I figured I would die right there in that bed, and that was OK with me.
However, it was NOT ok with my friends. Atta ran the mile to the main road and hailed a taxi. Then he marched in that house and commanded me to get out of bed.
I laid there. He pulled me up and led me out. I was in no condition to fight him.
As soon as the taxi began to move, I threw up. That did it. “Take me home and leave me alone!” I bawled. They ignored me.
That night, I lay in the hospital bed, looking up at my IVs hanging from wood posts and nails. It occurred to me that I might not see the sun again from here. The doctor thought I had appendicitis…but he didn’t know.
Earlier in the day I remembered that I had wanted to die. Now, there was time to consider what death meant. Strangely, my mind focused on the little things, the grass, and the curious bugs, what it feels like to be alive, every thought and emotion, every moment. So many beautifully crafted little gifts; carefully placed to surround every aspect of existence. How very good God has been to me, here, now, in this life. How very little I have even noticed.
My eyes closed that night, and I wanted to live.
The next conscious moment was startling: a strange melody, and a bright light.
The Ghanaian sun was streaming through the hospital window. With great enthusiasm, my cell phone was signaling a text message, right next to my throbbing head.
I reached over to pick it up. The message was from my friend Evelyn, who did not even know I was sick. Here is what she sent:
“The beauty of a morning is not only in the sunrise, but in the knowing that God has given another day of life.”
I believe in giving thanks to the Giver of Life, Jesus Christ.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.