80: One Rainy Morning

80: One Rainy Morning

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

One Rainy Morning

Coincidence is the language of the stars. For something to happen, so many forces have to be put into action.

~Paulo Coelho

The beeping of my cell-phone alarm jolted me awake. Summer rain beat against the window of my friend Alice’s guestroom, and I wanted nothing more than to pull the covers over my head and grab a few more winks. But home was more than a hundred miles away, and I had a full afternoon of appointments ahead of me. I needed to get on the road. I swung my feet onto the floor and picked up the phone to click on the weather app.

That’s when I noticed the low-battery warning. Rats! I’d meant to attach the phone to the charger before I went to sleep. No worries, though. Charging it while I ate breakfast would give it enough juice. I plugged the cord into the outlet near my bed and laid the phone on the bedside table. Then I headed to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and one of Alice’s famous blueberry muffins. We lingered longer than I’d intended in her cozy breakfast nook, chatting and watching the rain that was still coming down in buckets.

“My umbrella’s where it can’t do me a bit of good,” I told her.

Alice raised her eyebrows. “Back seat of the car?”

“Right.”

We both laughed, and she said she’d walk me out under her gigantic golf umbrella. A few minutes later, that’s what we did. I gave Alice a hug and promised to visit again soon. I knew she was lonely. Her husband had died only a few months earlier, and her only child lived clear across the country.

“I hope you really will come back soon,” she said, dabbing at her eyes.

“You be careful out there and take it slow around the curves. These mountain roads are slick.”

“I’ll be careful,” I promised, and I meant it. The fifteen miles of back road that led to Alice’s cabin were treacherous even in good weather. It would be a white-knuckle trip to the main highway on this rainy day, for sure.

With headlights blazing and windshield wipers slapping, I made my way slowly along. What I needed was some music to help keep me focused. I punched on the radio, but got nothing but static. I reached into my purse, which I’d set beside me on the passenger seat, for my phone, which had hundreds of songs stored on it. But the phone wasn’t in the side pocket where I usually kept it. It wasn’t in the main pocket with my wallet and sunglasses. It didn’t take long for me to figure out exactly where it was. The phone was on the bedside table in Alice’s guest room.

If it would’ve done any good, I’d have laid my head on the steering wheel and cried. This mistake was going to cost me at least an hour. Now, there was no way I could make it to my first appointment on time. No matter. I had to have the phone. I turned the car around and headed back along the same wet, curvy roads I’d just traveled.

I pulled into Alice’s driveway and raced through the rain to the front door. She didn’t answer when I knocked, so I turned the knob. It wasn’t locked. “Helloooo…,” I called out. “Crazy me forgot my phone.” No answer. “Alice?” I said. “Alice, it’s me.” Silence was the only response. I made my way toward her bedroom, but pulled up short when I turned the corner into the hall. There was Alice, lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling. I dropped to my knees beside her. Her breathing was shallow, and she had welts on her neck. All the color had drained from her face. I squeezed her hand and put my lips next to her ear. “Can you tell me what happened?”

“Wasp sting,” she murmured in a hoarse voice. “EpiPen’s in the medicine cabinet.”

I rushed to the bathroom and found the pen. “Tell me what to do.”

“Take it out of the case and pull off the cap. Hold the pen in your fist and plunge in the needle.” She pointed to her upper thigh. “Right there. Hold it for ten seconds. Hurry.”

Plunge in the needle? I was no nurse. I’d never in my whole life given anyone a shot. It was all I could do to dig a splinter out of a finger. But I slid the EpiPen out of its plastic holder and jammed the needle into her thigh. “Now call 911,” she said. I retrieved my phone from the guestroom and, with shaking hands, made the call. Within minutes, an ambulance arrived and took Alice to the hospital. I followed in my own car.

Needless to say, I missed all my appointments that afternoon. In the greater scheme of things, that didn’t matter one bit. What did matter was that I hadn’t remembered to charge my cell phone the night before. And that I’d left it on the bedside table. And that I’d realized — just in the nick of time — that the phone wasn’t in my purse and had turned around. Alice knew she was allergic to stings, but had never, until that day, had a true anaphylactic reaction. But she kept injectable epinephrine around just in case. If I hadn’t returned to her house when I did and given her the shot, she likely would have died.

A lucky coincidence? Not to my way of thinking. It was a miracle if I ever saw one.

~Jennie Ivey

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