Their tubes are so close that they are practically connected. Their whoops and laughter fill the air, just to be drowned out by the drum of the rapids. The morning passes quickly.
Jake crawls up onto a large, sunny rock standing like an inn welcoming weary tubers. “Mom, I’m starving! Can we please eat already?”
“Fine. I’ll break out the sandwiches,” Mom says, unzipping the backpack. The crinkling of the chips and sandwich bags sounds like music to Jake’s ears.
Soon the smell of peanut butter drifts to his nose. His teeth sink into the soft bread, and he demolishes his peanut butter and jelly sandwich like a ravenous beast. As he brushes off his hands, crumbs fall into the water, lost in the white rapids.
Jake and his family push off from the rock. The waters start to calm, and their tubes float lazily down the river. The sun warms their bones, cleansing their body from the cold. Jake closes his eyes and lets his mind wander.
He awakes with a start as water splashes his face and he nearly falls out of his tube. The rock he just slammed into now bounces him away into a different current, away from his family hollering his name, “Jake! Jake!”
“Mom, Dad, help me!” Tears stream down Jake’s face faster than the waters around him.
He drifts farther and farther away until his parents pass behind a rock. Tears roll down his face. His cries get lost in the thundering roar of the
He remembers one of the rules the river guides told them before they began their trip: “Stick with your group.”
Now the separation, loneliness, and fear of never seeing his family again overcomes him.. Hopelessly he scans the trees. He sees a robin fluttering to a nest. The bird calls to its mate and feeds a baby robin. Time seems to stop. At the base of the tree lay a shattered egg shell. One child where there used to be two, three birds where there used to be four. One child was lost, but never will be found.
For the first time in a while, Jake does the last thing he would have ever thought of doing. He prays. He prays for his brother, his dad, and his mom; he prays for his family. He remembers how a long time ago he learned about David, Solomon, and Jesus. He remembers one memory verse in particular: “I am with you always even to the end of the earth.” Those words, “I am with you,” comfort him that he is not alone. Warmth slowly creeps into his body.
The back of his hand swipes the tears from his eyes, “I can’t just sit here helpless and do nothing,” he tells himself. He spies another rock much larger than the one he sits upon.
Hauling the tube with him, he climbs the rock. He peers out from the top of the rock. Three tubes with three people float down the river to the pickup point. The muscles in his face stretch and tug at the corners of his mouth, opening the doors to a smile. The cold fear residing in his body drains out. His family is found! His prayer is answered!