Monday, May 28, 2007

Angels All Around Us

By Dawn Goldsmith

I’m a firm believer that we share this earth with angels.

But those winged Biblical hosts were far from my thoughts as my two sons, husband and I drove home from a last minute shopping trip. Our minds were on the upcoming camping trip. The boys chatted in the back seat about the big fish they’d bring home. “But I’m not going to eat them. Noooo way,” Nick, our eight-year-old, red-haired picky eater declared.

“Me either,” his pre-teen brother said in one of those rare moments when they agreed on something.

Our car trunk overflowed with fishing gear, foods to cook over a campfire and various necessities from hot dog forks to mosquito repellent. Derrol drove the familiar street that led away from the shopping mall and toward the little farming community where we lived. I sat in the front passenger seat, Nick sat behind me twisting and manipulating his favorite transformer toy. His older brother, Dave sat behind his Dad.

Anticipation filled the car that sunny summer day.

We approached the intersection. I looked at the car and the woman driving it as she slowed for the stop sign at the cross street.

Sometimes I get premonitions. I felt her disconnection and knew she didn’t see us. I opened my mouth to suggest Derrol slow down, when the woman sped up, heading her car directly at us.

My husband hit the horn and the brakes at the same time. There was room for us to miss each other if the woman braked. Instead, she pressed harder on the gas and her car flew into the intersection. We learned later that in her panic, she hit the gas pedal thinking it was the brake.

As most will tell you, time during a crisis slows down and every detail crystallizes like facets of a prism. Our brakes locked and the nose of the car jerked down as the woman’s car slammed into us. Between the sudden stop and the impact, we were thrown around like rag dolls.

My husband gasped for breath and fought the car and the pain as his clavicle snapped. My head grazed the windshield before my seat belt tightened and threw me back in my seat. I felt Nick’s face hit the back of my seat and saw Dave fly forward into Derrol’s seat. Their cries frightened me more than the accident. I struggled to get out of my seat belt. I frantically beat on the door. One thought, one instinct led me, “I must get the boys out of the car.”

I couldn’t help my husband and I couldn’t get the door open. I couldn’t reach my children and we all needed to get out of the car in case it would catch fire or explode.

We were trapped.

Suddenly from out of nowhere a crowd of people surrounded the two cars.

A burly older man wrenched open my door while a man and woman ministered to my husband and helped him and our oldest son out of the car. I rushed to the back door. It stood open filled with a young man who was pulling off the most beautiful multi-colored sweater. He stuffed it under my son’s bloody nose and murmured encouragement.

“You’re OK. It’s just a nosebleed. You’ll be fine. Man, you’re one brave kid.”

Silly how concern over a spoiled garment would even cross my mind. But it did. I even reached to stop him from putting the lovely garment to my son’s face, and then felt ashamed that I would even consider the garment more than my son’s need.

Nick scrambled out of the car and into my arms and the young man with his sweater stepped away. I thought of the Bible story about Joseph and his coat of many colors and above my son’s head, I tearfully thanked him and asked his name.

If he told me, I don’t remember.

In the following minutes paramedics came to check our injuries and police asked questions for their reports. Thankfully no one suffered serious injuries. In the following days we could feel the bump where the two pieces of my husband’s clavicle rejoined and we laughed about our bruises and stiff muscles.

I never again saw the people who ministered to us. For almost three decades, I’ve thought often of the young man in his colorful sweater who selflessly ministered to a frightened child. He earned this mother’s prayers through the years and my heartfelt thanks.

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