Here’s a story that’s closer to home.
My graduate student son was at the wheel of my tiny Datsun car as we drove from Fresno toward Tulare on a beautiful wintry California day. I, of course, kept up a gentle nagging, but everything appeared fine. Then it wasn’t.
Something happened. It took us a few seconds to realize what had occurred. Our little Datsun was slapped across the front of a large truck carrying about 30 heavy cattle, the driver unaware of us when he changed lanes.
It took us a minute to realize that we were looking at mosquitoes—dead ones—on the grill of the truck. That certainly didn’t make us feel much better, mentally forecasting our own future on this free ride down the highway.
The driver didn’t stop; he never knew we were there. The car on my side sank lower and lower; fractionally, but it sank. I realized that pretty soon the edge of my car door would be in a similar condition, especially if we hit a tiny rough spot in the road’s asphalt.
I turned to my son. “Mark, I love you.” That’s all I could say. He responded in kind, both of us sitting there like stool pigeons in a shooting gallery. The car slid fractionally lower. Soon it would drag enough on the highway that it would throw us beneath the heavily-laden truck. It seemed like hours as we perched there. Later we learned a couple of things.
A scale-weighing employee had seen the crash; she’d called the Highway Patrol. She also told us that she knew we would soon be dead, and began to say prayers for us. I was working the heavenly hotline for my guardian angel, asking that entity to respond with something that could save us. It was obvious that the truck driver had no clue he was giving us a free ride on his truck.
The car shifted lower. My son and I hugged each other. He’d kept honking, but the noise of the truck kept the driver from hearing our horn. I hoped our angels had better hearing.
Then, the truck pulled over, us still attached like with an umbilical cord. When the truck stopped, our little car settled happily on the gravel, falling off the silver grill. The truck driver came around to check his tires, which he thought was causing him a “littlerough” driving problem. When he saw us, he said, “Where did you people come from?”
I said, “Off the front of your truck.”
Just then two cars drove up: one containing two Highway Patrol officers; the other, one of my students. She and her mother ran back to see if we were okay. I was so “out of it” that my first words to them were, “Thank you for the nice Christmas card.” They looked at me as though I was insane. Who cared about a card, when they’d just been saved from a very messy death?
But I knew there was someone else I needed to thank. Someone who’d been with us in that car that day. Our angels.
The officers said they’d fully expected to see us dead, splattered on the highway; there was no way we could have survived such a crash. But we were standing there, a little shaky, but alive. I turned away for a minute to thank someone else who’d intervened for us. Someone who had protected me on other occasions when I’d been in danger. But this was the closest call I’d ever had. So, my prayer of thanksgiving had to be of higher quality than ever before. But what does one say to an angel; a simple thank you seemed far too little. But that’s all our angels accepted, despite my repeating over and over: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
My angel wasn’t finished. In order to ease and repair my aching body, particularly my back, I went to a local chiropractor. His gentle hands did an excellent job of healing me. When I later found out he was legally blind, I had to thank my angel once again.