Never Really Alone
by Kristen Long
“Renee, you have to get up,” I said as I helped my daughter into her clothes. “Your brother is sick. We have to get him medicine.”
Taking Jason’s temperature again, I prayed that it had gone down. Nope, 104.8 degrees. I bundled him up in a sleeping bag. I tried not to fall as I carried him across the frozen parking lot. The air outside was so cold it took my breath away. Renee cried as she stumbled behind me.
We didn’t have enough gas to warm up the car, let alone make the 40-minute round trip to the only pharmacy open at 2 a.m. The bigger problem was that I didn’t know if I had enough money for the medicine. I had $18 and a bag of change.
Please God, don’t let us run out of gas! Finally arriving at the store, I was thanking God. I gave the pharmacist our name but couldn’t take my eyes off Jason wrapped in the sleeping bag in the shopping cart.
“Why on earth would you bring a sick child out on a freezing night like this?” she said in a shrill voice.
Shame and helplessness welled up inside of me faster than the tears in my eyes. “I didn’t have anyone to leave them with,” I said in a whisper. She walked away.
“Can you give me an idea of how much it will be?” I asked.
“Insurance?” She flung her hand out, waiting for my insurance card.
“I don’t have any” I said, not wanting to meet her gaze.
My heart sank. There was no way there was $4 in change.
“Could I get half of the medicine now and half on Tuesday?”
“No.” She walked away again.
I sat down to count coins. “Thank you, Lord! I couldn’t believe I had enough. I headed to the register for my final humiliation. I handed her the cash and the bag of change.
“There is $4 in change,” I said.
“Well, of course, I’ll have to count it myself,” she said, pulling the bag from my hand.
“Of course you will.”
I felt her eyes follow me as we walked away. I gave Jason a dose of medicine and began praying for a safe trip home. I’d like to say that we made it all the way, but I can’t. We ran out of gas two blocks from the apartment. After putting a note on the window saying that I would get the car later, we began our miserable walk home. I still don’t know how I carried my son home and up three flights of stairs.
With the kids in bed I sat down on the floor next to Jason’s bed. His fever was still so high. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night. And I cried. Even through much worse circumstances in my life, I don’t think I had ever felt so alone. There was no person to rely on, to understand, to talk to about what I was feeling. I was sure that I was the most awful parent in the world.
Many of the worst things I could have imagined actually happened that night. Yet I know God was there right along side of me. He never left me and the kids. Even though there is no other shoulder to bear the responsibilities, I am never, have never been and will never be alone. I learned that I have the strength to get through anything because God has proven his faithfulness repeatedly.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV)
Kristen Long lives in Illinois.