LIMA — A year ago, blessings were bountiful for Laura. She was a newlywed working to build her life in Indiana. She was working and helping provide for her teen-aged son.
It all changed for Laura about six months ago, when doctors diagnosed her with lupus, a chronic, autoimmune disease affecting her heart and lungs. Following the diagnosis and a prolonged stay in an Indianapolis hospital, Laura’s husband left, saying he couldn’t deal with her constant illness. She moved home to Lima, but frequent hospital trips and her constant state of illness mean she can’t work.
“I wish I could work. I feel like I’m just withering away,” Laura said through tears. “I hate that I need help this year. I’ve never in my life needed help like this before.”
She tried to switch doctors but couldn’t get the same treatment she needs locally. In an effort to try to manage the disease, that’s meant nearly daily trips from Lima to Indianapolis, spending what little money she has on gas to get to and from doctors’ appointments.
“I just want to stay here on Earth,” she said. “All I have is my faith and my family. Every night I cry and pray with my son. God’s going to get me through; he’s already seen me through so much.”
Still, it’s tough to be a single mother of a 13-year-old boy and having to tell him there isn’t going to be much for Christmas this year.
“He told me he doesn’t need much,” Laura said. “He just needs me here. He’s gotten comfortable with the fact we don’t have much. He’s such a good boy.”
Struggling to make ends meet and sometimes coming back into town on fumes because she can’t afford the gas, Laura hasn’t been able to provide beds for her and her son to sleep in. Laura sleeps on the couch. Her son sleeps on an air mattress.
“Any help at all is just going to be such a blessing and helpful to me and my son,” Laura said. “It’s just been a crazy year, but Jesus is still there. I know there’s a light at the end of this somewhere.”
The Empty Stocking Fund benefits three cooperating agencies: Bradfield Community Center, Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center and the Salvation Army. Money can be donated by sending it to The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima OH 45807, or by dropping it off at any Superior Federal Credit Union branch. Donations of new toys and nonperishable food items will be accepted at The Lima News office. For past stories, go to LimaOhio.com/emptystocking. These stories use assumed names to protect the participants’ privacy.