From Chicken Soup for the Country Soul

Angels Among Us

January 25, 1986—I’ll never forget that night! My band and I were driving back to Nashville after performing at a police benefit in Albertville, Alabama. It was raining hard, and our van and trailer were stopped at a light as we waited to cross a four-lane highway. I was sitting in the back of the van on the left, and our road manager, Randy, was driving. As I looked out the window, I saw an eighteen-wheeler barreling down the highway toward the intersection. I thought to myself,My God, if his light turns red, that truck d rive r’s not going to be able to stop his rig!

As I looked up, I saw our light turn green. . . . all in what must have been a split second. But it seemed like forever, and ever, and ever. . . . as if everything had suddenly switched to slow motion. I felt Randy lift his foot off the brake—we started moving forward—and I got an awful sick feeling deep in the pit of my stomach.

“Stop!” I yelled at Randy, sensing that he didn’t see the truck. Randy jammed on the brakes just as the eighteen-wheeler— air horn blasting—slammed into us. Miraculously, the truck just clipped the front-left side of my Dodge maxivan—the strongest part. Our equipment packed trailer was ripped off its hitch as our van spun around on the wet pavement. Although the Dodge was totaled, we all survived with minimal injuries. Had the collision occurred just a moment later, we would have been broadsided and—from what the police officers told us—most likely killed.

So it had come to pass. . . . The angelic prophecy was manifested. . . .

Shortly before Christmas 1985, I had started getting premonitions that I was going to be in a bad vehicle accident. Night after night, I lay in bed, drifting off to sleep when suddenly I’d sit up with my heart pounding, thinking to myself, I’m not re ad y to go ye t! Each time, I was overwhelmed by a sense of despair—a sick feeling deep in the pit of my stomach. This went on for weeks, right on through the holidays. I feared I might lose my mind! Then, in the wee hours of the morning of January 24, 1986, something very weird happened.

I was in my kitchen, making a birthday cake—chocolate, of course—for a gathering I was having the next afternoon to celebrate my birthday. As I stirred the batter, “something” took hold of me and urged me to go outside. I wasn’t really scared, but I felt very uneasy—like when you’re getting ready to hear something you don’t want to hear. I stood in the front yard, looked up at the starry sky and asked out loud, “What? What is it you’re trying to tell me?”

I didn’t have to wait long for an answer. This loud, very strong, masculine voice said, “Be care ful—this may be your last birthday!” I felt slammed by that same sick feeling in my stomach that I got when I was having those bedtime premonitions. I just stood there in the yard, dumbfounded, asking out loud for more information, but no more was given. I knew I was being warned about something, and I had a pretty good idea that it was connected to my premonitions.

I went back in the house. My knees were shaking and my heart was pounding. My mind kept going over every word. . . . “Be—careful—this—may—be—your—last— birthday!”

“May” is the keyword, I thought to myself. Whatever I was being warned about must be something I can prevent— otherwise, why am I being warned? And who was it that was warning me? At the time, I thought it was God, or my sweet, loving daddy (who passed away in 1982) speaking to me in a voice not quite his own. . . . much deeper than I remembered.

After the accident, I realized that the voice from above belonged to my guardian angel. As soon as I understood that, I wrote down the title, “Angels Among Us,” in my notebook and started thinking about lyrics off and on for several years. It wasn’t until Christmas 1992, when I was sitting in my dad’s old easy chair late one night at my mom’s house, that I got the strongest feeling I had to finish the song. When I got back to Nashville, I worked with Don Goodman—a good friend and a great songwriter— and we put the finishing touches to “Angels Among Us.”

Not long afterward, the song was recorded by Alabama. Since then, I’ve had a hard time keeping track of the number of phone calls, faxes and letters I’ve received about how “Angels Among Us” has touched people’s lives. One of the best things happened right before Christmas 1996.

My husband, Duane, and I were in California, where he was playing a gig with Glenn Frey. That’s when I got an urgent call from Kim Armstrong in Alabama’s Ft. Payne office. Kim, voice cracking, told me that a nine-year-old girl in Virginia had been in a coma for twelve days following a bad car crash. The child had head injuries so extensive her doctor saw little chance of recovery. He suggested that the mother try playing some music for the little girl. When the chorus of “Angels Among Us” began, the little girl woke up and started crying—just as she and her mother had done before the little girl’s accident when they listened to the song together.

In the next few days, the article about the little girl appeared in newspapers all over the country, and my phone rang off the hook. A few weeks later, I got to talk with the little girl’s mother. She said it looked like her daughter would have a complete recovery, and the child was already back at school!

That one bit of news made my whole Christmas! Maybe writing this song was one of the reasons I wasn’t taken on January 25, 1986. I hope there are more reasons. Lots more!

Becky Hobbs

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