81: Someone Watching Over You

81: Someone Watching Over You

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada

Someone Watching Over You

Angels are all around us, all the time, in the very air we breathe.

~Eileen Elias Freeman, The Angels’ Little Instruction Book

As usual, Christmas had been packed with presents, entertaining, food and family. It had all passed by in a blur, but now it was Boxing Day and we had a chance to catch our breath. The weather was turning cold with a strong north wind, and it was good to be inside with the heat cranked up.

The phone rang and I could see it was our youngest daughter, Kristen. I glanced at our grandfather clock and saw it was 9:30 a.m. So early for them!

“Hi Daddy. I was just calling to let you know we’re heading off to Montreal for our three-day getaway.”

“You’ve got your hotel reservations okay?”

“Everything is arranged. Brad and I are really tired so this will be a good chance for both of us to rest and have some time together. It’s hard to believe we’ve been married for over four months!”

“Well drive carefully, honey, it’s winter.”

“Oh we will, don’t worry. Say hi to Mummy.”

“Will do. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

I settled back in my chair and opened my book. It was a great day to stay inside and relax. But my mind was half on Kristen’s drive to Montreal.

That afternoon, a good friend was hosting a special Boxing Day get together so we could meet her fiancé from Texas. We could smell the hors d’oeuvres baking in the kitchen the minute we walked through the front door, and laughter filled the house. It promised to be a fun afternoon.

Suddenly my cellphone rang. I saw it was Kristen and my stomach immediately tightened. Why would she be calling at 3:30 p.m.?

“Hi, are you alright?”

Kristen’s voice was shaking and I could barely hear her. “Daddy we had a bad accident — really bad. It’s been raining for most of the drive. We must have hit a patch of black ice and then the car went sideways and slid off the highway. We rolled three or four times, I’m not sure.” She stopped talking to catch her breath. I could hear the tears in her voice.

“Are the two of you okay? How long ago did it happen?”

“It just happened and I think we are alright, but I don’t know. My neck’s pretty sore and Brad’s not feeling great.”

As I was talking my eyes were on the crowd at the party, but everything seemed to be in slow motion. All the voices around me became a background buzz.

“Where are you now? Do you want me to come and get you?”

“We’re just outside Cornwall, but no, don’t come it’s too dangerous. Highway 401 is really bad — and it’s so cold. They should have closed the highway or had salt trucks out, but they didn’t. We can’t get into our trunk because it’s jammed shut, and we don’t have our warm clothes. We landed on the driver’s side of the car and the back window is gone and snow has filled the rear seat. The whole car is a write-off.”

“Is there anything we can do?”

“Look I’ve got to go. The police have just arrived. Call you soon.”

As I hung up the phone I felt physically sick as I turned and explained what had happened to my wife Susan, who was now standing beside me. We so wanted to be there to help, but there was no way. Driving was out of the question, and the train would never get us there in time. I also had no idea where they were on the highway; just finding them would be problematic. I hoped they could stay safe despite the icy roads and cars passing by at 100 kilometres per hour or more.

Time dragged by, and what seemed to me to be an hour was in fact only five minutes when I next glanced at my watch. The food at the party was great but it had suddenly lost its flavour. As I talked to others at the party, my conversation was disjointed because my mind was somewhere else.

Outside the sky was turning dark and the temperature was dropping. A few passing snow showers blurred our vision of the back yard and sent chills right through me. Was it snowing on the 401? Had the ambulance come? We didn’t know what was happening down the highway, and there was nothing I could do but pray.

Finally, at 7:35 p.m., my cellphone rang.

“We’re here at the hospital and the doctors have checked us out. Brad has whiplash but no other damage showed up in the X-rays. I’m okay, but I’m sore and bruised all over.”

“Did you get your stuff from the car?”

“We have some things. The tow truck took our car to a local impound. We’ll go there tomorrow. Tonight we’re staying in a motel, then taking the train back to Toronto.”

“We’ll pick you up. Just let us know the time.”

Kristen’s voice then turned quiet and thoughtful. “There was something really strange that happened after the accident, Daddy.”

“What was it?”

“Well, as we were driving along we were all by ourselves on the highway. There was nobody behind us that we could see and nobody in front of us. Then we hit the black ice and lost control of the car. We slid to the right and then rolled off the road so far that no one passing by on the road could see us easily. And you know we have a white car.”

“Uh huh.”

“Well our car had just come to a stop in a snow bank.” Kristen paused to think. “We were worried that we couldn’t get out because it was on its side and the doors were jammed. It was very cold and my coat was in the back seat along with my boots. Nobody could see us from the highway. If someone did stop they would be endangering their lives because the road was so icy. And then, all of a sudden, this family appeared out of nowhere. They leaned into the car to see how we were. They pulled open the passenger door, which was now on top, and helped us get out. They called 911, kept us warm and made sure we were okay. We don’t know how they found us. We don’t know their names or anything about them. They left as soon as the police arrived, and we didn’t even have a chance to thank them.”

“Someone was watching over you,” I whispered, remembering my prayers.

“I know, Dad, I know.”

~Rob Harshman

Mississauga, Ontario

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