61: Disappearing Act

61: Disappearing Act

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Disappearing Act

All that I have seen teaches me to trust God for all I have not seen.

~Author Unknown

I sighed as I concentrated on the slick road ahead of me. The windshield wipers made easy work, clearing away the fine mist settling over my car as I drove.

“What’s wrong, Mommy?”

“Nothing, honey, I’m just frustrated.” I smiled at my daughter, Kyley, sitting next to me in the passenger seat and quickly checked the rearview mirror to make sure my little guy was doing okay. Josh sat nestled in the back seat of my two-door sports car, seemingly content.

I turned my attention back to the source of my frustration, the truck in front of me driving entirely too slowly. I only had a little farther to go until I could turn off of this narrow country road. I wasn’t at all concerned with the fact that the farm-to-market road I would take next was even lonelier and narrower than the one I currently traveled. At least I wouldn’t be behind this truck. I did feel a momentary twinge of sympathy for the truck following behind me, knowing he would soon be stuck behind this Sunday driver all on his own.

As I approached the intersection where I would turn, I flipped on my turn signal and that’s when it happened—the truck in front of me turned onto my exit! I followed behind him and was surprised when I noticed the truck behind me in hot pursuit. What was going on here? This old rural route hadn’t seen this much traffic in ages.

I drove a short way, cursing my luck when I became alarmed. The slow-moving truck pulled a rickety flatbed trailer. The trailer had begun whipping back and forth. I imagined it coming unhitched and flying towards us. I had to get past this truck!

We were on a flat stretch of road and I saw no oncoming traffic. I pulled out and began to accelerate when the trailer drifted into my lane, nearly hitting my car. I slammed on my brakes and jerked the wheel hard. I no longer had control of my car. With my foot planted firmly on the brake, we careened into a nearby field. I held the steering wheel tightly and became terrifyingly aware that we were headed straight for a tree. I jerked the wheel again, sending us into a spin. The car spun and spun, still headed for the tree.

I’d always heard of people who talked about their lives flashing before their eyes during life-threatening events but I had never fully grasped what that meant. I now knew. I processed what seemed like hundreds of simultaneous, coherent thoughts in what had to have been a matter of seconds. I thought about my daughter on the passenger side and my son seated behind me on the driver’s side, meaning this would end badly no matter how my small car landed on that tree. I thought about a man in our community who had recently lost his wife and how my husband, Joey, was going to be like him, a widower. I thought about how completely helpless I was and how there wasn’t a single thing I could do in that moment to help me or my children. I suppose it was that desperation that prompted me to do what so many before me had done when they too realized they had no other hope; I called out to God… literally. I screamed the same words over and over, “Save us God! Save us God! Save us God!” And in one anti-climatic moment, it was over.

We sat in stunned silence.

“Are y’all okay? Kyley! Joshua!” I turned to my daughter and then twisted in my seat so I could see my son. They nodded, a mixture of shock and fear etched into their little faces.

The truck pulling the trailer never stopped but I watched as the truck that had been following behind me pulled onto the side of the road. A man in his late fifties emerged wearing an unmistakable look of concern.

“I’ll be right back. Y’all stay here.”

I got out of my car and did a quick survey of my vehicle. It didn’t seem to have any major damage, just a lot of grass and dirt everywhere.

I headed towards the stranger. I assured the kind man that my children and I were fine. I turned back towards the final resting place of my car and stood silently as my eyes darted back and forth.

“What are you looking for?” the man asked.

I felt a little confused and a bit sheepish when I answered. “I know this is going to sound crazy, but I could swear I was headed straight for a tree.” I looked over the empty, grassy, field, not a tree in sight.

He shook his head in disbelief and responded with a shocking revelation. I wanted to hear more. I wanted him to elaborate but a distinctly familiar sound coming from the direction of my car interrupted our exchange. The shock had worn off and my children’s terrified cries had found their way to me.

“Don’t leave. I need to go check on my children. I’ll be right back.” I reluctantly left the stranger standing by his truck.

I hurried over to my car and did my best to reassure my babies. They seemed to settle down and I looked up just in time to see the stranger pulling back onto the road and drive away.

In the days following our accident, I shared the story of the disappearing tree with a few close relatives. I was aware of how strange and improbable it sounded, that I had been headed straight for a tree that had somehow vanished. I decided pretty quickly that it was a story best kept to myself. People would either think it was the adrenaline and I had imagined it in my panic or they would think I was crazy. I’d have thought the exact same thing. As a matter of fact, through the years I had tried to dismiss it as just that, a manifestation brought on by the stress of the situation. Only there’s one thing I couldn’t get past, one truth from that day that wouldn’t allow me to simply “dismiss” the awesomeness of what I had experienced—the words of the kind stranger.

He had asked me what I was looking for and when I told him, he spoke the words that will be forever embedded in my soul.

“I know. I saw it, too.”

I’ve had people ask me if I think the stranger was an angel and I feel very strongly that he was not. I believe he was simply placed there that day to do one thing: to bear witness, to affirm what I already knew in my heart but had been all too willing to second guess and deny for the sake of worldly acceptance. I experienced a real life miracle. I called out to God and He delivered me.

~Melissa Wootan

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