Sometimes In Spite of Your Best Preparations, The Thing You Hope Doesn’t Happen Happens.

We have the best sort of bed nets, treated with insecticide that’s harmful to bugs but not humans.

We have the best sort of malaria-prevention drugs, the kind with few side effects, and we take it every day.

We have treated our clothing with the spray that’s harmful to bugs but not humans (see above.)

{You could say that, like my father before me, my motto is “trust God and be as prepared as humanly possible.”}

Even so, our son Graeme (age 4.5) came down with a mild case of malaria this past week, along with some sort of infection that sent his white blood cell count a-soaring and gave him a fever.

There’s nothing like your children getting ill to make you feel powerless. Oh, you take them to the clinic or the doctor’s office or the hospital, or some combination thereof, you fill prescriptions, and you Google various treatment options.

(I used my husband’s computer for a moment, and when he came back to it, he remarked, “you know it’s a hard day when your most recent Google search is “oral rehydration solution recipe.” True enough.)

But even with all our efforts at healing and comfort, we are not fully in control. We can’t filter out the p. falciparum or the streptoccocus or whatever strain of influenza is making the rounds. We can’t wave a magic wand and make it all better now!


I hate this so much, because I like to believe that all my good preparations (see above) and even, to some degree, my worrying, will keep bad things at bay. When the lab test came back showing that Graeme had malaria in his blood, well, it was as if the universe was laughing at those plans. I do not like this one bit.

Of course, we were able to make sure that Graeme was getting the best possible treatment, and to monitor him carefully and offer him lollipops in a variety of flavors to take away the bitterness of the quinine syrup and so forth. We are the lucky ones, the unimaginably blessed ones, at least materially speaking.

He is already feeling much better, but I can’t stop thinking of those mothers and fathers who don’t have the luxury of phoning tropical disease experts and consulting with different doctors to optimize treatment plans. I can’t stop thinking of how grateful I am not to be in that position, but also, of how, even with all these advantages, there’s very little I can control, and I find myself still just begging God to be merciful, and to give me the grace to extend that mercy to those who don’t have those luxuries.

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About Rachel Marie Stone
  • Tim

    Praying for Graeme right now, Rachel.

    As a parent, I have known this reality more than once: “even with all these advantages, there’s very little I can control”. My wife has a button pinned above the desk in our room that reads “God’s in Charge”, and I am glad for that daily reminder.



    P.S. Tim’s reaction to your Googling was awesome.

  • dad

    Hang on, Grandma’s on her way…

  • Danielle

    We’re so sorry to hear Graeme’s sick. We’ll be praying and hoping for a good recovery. Peace, The Matavas

  • Nancy Van Wyck

    You did all the things to help the little guy and your love was the best healer ever. God will take charge now so hang in there. Our prayers for Graeme and the family.

  • Suzanne Forbes

    So sorry he’s sick. I do find it fun that you have a son named Graeme as well – my son Graeme is 12 – he’s named after my husband’s Scottish side of the family.

  • kate shellnutt

    I am so sorry to hear about your son! It must be so frustrating to do all this work to prevent an infection, to be so deliberate about it every day and night, and then to have someone… your child… fall sick. Praying the doctors and treatments bring healing soon.

  • Emily

    Oh, goodness. I hope Graeme is feeling much better and that you are getting rest. The worrying alone is so tiring when the littles are sick.

  • rachel – even one sparrow

    I am always the saddest when I cannot help my daughter. :( I hope your son gets better soon.

    • Rachel Marie Stone

      He is so much better already. But I think seeing your children suffer is the worst kind of suffering.

  • Rochelle

    Blessings for little Graeme