44: A Voice in the Desert

44: A Voice in the Desert

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

A Voice in the Desert

Angels deliver Fate to our doorstep — and anywhere else it is needed.

~Jessi Lane Adams

I was jogging around our base in Tikrit, Iraq. As I rounded the corner I could see the front gate and was glad the run was almost over. Then, as I headed for the final stretch, a voice in my head said, “Take cover behind the wall.”

I looked up and did not see any imminent danger. There were no missiles in the sky, the alarm bell was not sounding, and everything was relatively quiet. I kept jogging, assuming that the paranoia of being on a battlefield had begun to take its toll on me. Then I paused for a moment as I got closer to the wall because my brain was screaming, “Take cover!”

Suddenly, I heard a bloodcurdling scream coming from the front gate. As I whipped my head around I saw a huge ball of flames, and then everything went black. When I woke up I was at the medical station with the medic staring down at me. I was confused about what was going on. The medic told me to hang on a minute and went off. He brought back one of the other medics with whom I had done a great deal of work during my deployment. Jim put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Ma’am, you were the only survivor. Do you remember anything that happened?”

I was stunned and couldn’t speak. Jim told the others that I might be in shock. I looked at him puzzled and said, “All I remember is screaming, a large bang, and then a fire ball. The fire ball was about a mile across.” Jim nodded and said that would make sense because it was a tanker full of explosives that detonated at the gate. I instantly felt sick. I knew there were always six guards stationed at the gate. I asked about them and Jim repeated quietly, “You are the only survivor.”

And with that I became consumed with “survivor guilt.”

Once released, I went back to my bunk, where I found glass had shattered all over my bed and belongings. My roommates greeted me enthusiastically and asked how I survived. I explained that I had heard a voice telling me to stay behind the wall and so I did though I did not know why My closest friend, Kathy, said quite simply, “Well, you have a divine purpose; that much is for sure.” I doubted her. After all I was a single person with no real purpose in life, so that could not be the case.

A few weeks later, I received an e-mail from Robin, the mother of a girl named Erica who I had been a “big sister” to for the past six years. Its message was simple:

“Linda, Child Protective Services took Marissa. Can you please get her back when you come home?”

Marissa was Robin’s grandchild and Erica’s niece. I knew her and had taken care of her on many occasions prior to my deployment. I was confused, though. I was a “big sister,” a volunteer, not an official foster parent. When I went back to my bunk I sat staring off into space. Kathy came over to me and said, “What’s up you?”

I told her about the e-mail I had received. Kathy and I had been friends for years, so she had met Erica and Marissa. She gripped my shoulder and stared at me intently. “Linda, don’t you see? You survived the explosion to be a mother!” I shook my head in disagreement; after all foster care is temporary. But Kathy shook her head firmly and said, “No your purpose is to be Marissa’s mother.”

When I returned home I did in fact go through the steps to gain custody of Marissa. I learned she had a sister, Mary, who no one had mentioned, so I took her, too. After fostering them for two years, I adopted Marissa and Mary.

Kathy was right. That voice saved me for a very special purpose, to be a mom to two wonderful young girls.

~L. Thorburn

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