My life has been hectic lately. Between my mom's Lupus flaring up again and my dad working more I've been scrambling trying to keep me and my sister afloat. I recently got a job near the beach at the Catch Shack as a busboy. I figured it would be good to rake in some extra money to help with bills, and if my mom's illness is like anything it was last year we are going to need it.

I've been mega lonely lately. I haven't gone to church in a year since mom got sick. I hate to admit it but that time really took a toll on my faith. Just please don't tell my family that. They would come unglued if they found out I don't believe in God anymore.

I was going to college for sociology last fall but when mom had to get chemotherapy that had to go on the back burner. We couldn't afford it. Dad needed all the money we could save to take care of mom. My sister had to give up dance lessons too. We never made a fuss or acted sad because it would have made mom feel really guilty. But inside we all knew she felt bad about it either way. Even though Lupus isn't as lethal as cancer, it can certainly wreck a lot of havoc on someone's body. It has affected all of us in such a way I would never wish it on my worst enemy.

I can still hear the shakiness in my mom's voice the afternoon her doctor called her with the worst news. She had an autoimmune condition called Lupus. Not only were her joints inflamed but her kidneys were too. She was an inch away from kidney failure if she did not start treatment immediately. We were all devastated. My little sister, Delia, held tight onto me as dad held onto our mom. It was raining outside too. I will never forget the feeling of uncertainty and fear for my family's future. What was going to happen to my mom? Was she going to die? The doctors didn't have a lot of information for us about why she was sick, just that she was and they needed to act quickly or else she would end up with kidney failure and need a transplant.

I lay in bed that night thinking to myself why would God do this to us, we're not bad people. I know everyone sins, but it wasn't like my family was a gang of thieves or anything. We go to church every Sunday and do our best to follow Christ in everything, and yet this happened. Why would God let my mom get sick? Couldn't He have prevented it or something? There was no easy Sunday School answer for what I was feeling that night I guess. I was angry at a God who I thought was supposed to love and protect us. And that made me feel really guilty. But everything was just so shaken now. I wanted to cry, scream and throw up all at the same time. I didn't know what was happening.

The following months consisted of taking mom to weekly chemotherapy sessions at an I.V. center and to countless doctor appointments with all kinds of specialists. The cabinet that once held all of mom's favorite mugs now was filled with hundreds of medications with names I can't even pronounce. I would walk past my mom's bedroom in the mornings and see her lying in bed curled up and hugging a pillow waiting for the pain medication to kick in. It cut through me and I could almost feel her pain in my own body. At night she would barely eat and just go back to bed. Since she was in too much pain to cook anymore, dad had to step up and most of what he cooked for us was not very appetizing. Sorry dad. Later I would sneak out with my sister and go to McDonald's and buy us double cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes. It was one of the few moments that helped me forget what was happening at home. Pulling into the driveway and seeing the shadow of my dad helping my mom walk to her bed brought me back to reality. I had to be strong for Delia though, she was only eleven.I felt really bad for my dad, however. He had to take off many days of work to be at home to help mom, and that almost cost him his job. He couldn't bear to be away from her though, and us. He wanted to help as much as he could. But there came a day he couldn't afford to take off work anymore. And I had to step up to the up to the plate looked like driving mom to appointments, bringing her drinks and food on days she couldn't walk from the pain, helping her keep track of her medications because the chemo was giving her major brain fog, and bringing her a trash can whenever she felt nauseous. It was frightening to see your own mom be so sick when all your life you've known her to be invincible. The woman who used to take care of everyone and everything now couldn't even walk up and down the stairs without pain.

Eventually the chemotherapy was able to stop my mom's body from attacking her kidneys and the medications helped bring her Lupus into remission. That means her disease isn't as active as it was when she first got sick. That's good, because now my mom is able to get out of bed without pain and can go on short walks with us after dinner like we used to do. But not everything is in the clear. My mom's body is still revenged from the chemotherapy, and we have to make sure she doesn't overdo anything as to bring another flare on. Oh, and she can't be in the sun. Ever. That means no more family trips to the beach like we used to. And the windows in our home are covered with super dark curtains to keep the sun's rays from seeping in. It makes everything look really dark and depressing. I mostly feel sad for my mom, who just wants to have a normal life again. She doesn't deserve this.

Sometimes early in the morning I like to walk along the shore. Mornings are the best time because there is hardly anyone else there. That is the way I like it. Just me and the water.

One morning I was feeling particularly down and arrived at the beach relatively early. The sun was just coming up over the ocean.

I was slowly dragging my bare feet across the sands when I noticed a figure in the foggy distance that kept stooping down and standing back up. I wondered what they were doing when I realized they were walking towards my direction. I looked down at my phone to check the time and thought about going to work early but there seemed to be a mysterious tug that kept me moving forward. It was as if the waves were pulling me closer.

For a moment it felt like eternity had passed before we came to each other. Somehow as nervous as I am around others I was not afraid at all. I was a little weirded out from this strange encounter however. It was like something out of a movie. As we walked closer he would stop and stoop down to dig through the sand some more.

The foggy figure in the distance shadowed by mist was now just a few feet away from me. I wonder if he'd realized I was standing in front of him. He looked up from the sand that he digging through and finally noticed I was there. He quickly stood up and apologized for being in the way.

"I was looking for some shells from last night's tide," he said.

So that was why he was stooping and digging through the sand. Kind of an odd hobby for a young adult this early in the morning.

"No that's okay. I was just taking a morning walk before I go to work," I said.

Quickly he reached into a messenger bag that was hanging off his shoulder.

"Take this. It's the only one I've found today. I think it's lucky," he said, handing me a small shell.

I felt a bit confused but took it anyway. He smiled.

"Thanks?" I muttered. I was starting to feel a little more weirded out by this guy. I looked at my phone again and saw it was almost seven. I excused myself and left as fast as I could to the Catch Shack. I made it there just before it opened. Hopefully I wouldn't get yelled at by the manager. She hates late employees.