Torrential rain unnerved me as I drove along the highway. The downpour hammering on the roof of the car echoed in my eardrums. I turned up the radio. My car’s wipers were stuck on slow speed, hindering my vision and distracting me. Driving in the far right lane, I leaned forward, both hands clutching the steering wheel and wondered how late I—
Suddenly, the taillights in front glowed red. The driver slammed on his brakes. Automatically, I hit mine, but they locked up. The back-end of the car in front loomed closer.
I cannot hit them! So, doing what any sensible driver would have done (or not), I aimed for the concrete divider, swinging sharply to the right.
My car plowed into that barrier. The tires screeched and drowned out the screams in my head. I skidded out of control at 180-degrees before stalling in the middle lane—facing on-coming traffic.
My world slammed to a stop.
The wipers still swished lethargically back and forth across the freshly cracked windshield. Music blared over the radio. My mind in a daze, I glanced in the rear-view mirror.
I was thankful that Anna Marie appeared unscathed, apart from the fear in her moist eyes.
“It’s okay, Anna, don’t cry. Mommy’s gonna get us out of here.”
I made a quick assessment of the wreckage: the hood had flown open; the front end was caved in, the right headlights busted.
I rolled down the window to stick my head out, and became drenched by pelting rain and the splash from a truck hurtling past.
Headlights from cars beamed as they swerved to miss us, terrifying me even more. Soaked and trembling with my nerves on edge, I thought, Lord, how am I going to get the car off the road without causing a bigger accident?
I wasn’t even sure my car would budge.
Vehicles roared by, but one slowed and stopped. With headlights practically blinding me, the driver left his emergency lights blinking; he exited his car and made his way toward me, hunkering down from the rainfall. He scanned the inside my car, his eyes alarmed, yet warm.
“Miss, are you all right? Is your little girl okay?”
“Yes . . . yes, I think so,” I scarcely heard my own voice say.
“Put your emergency lights on. Need to get you out of this traffic.”
I nodded and watched my angel head back to his car and pull over onto the shoulder. When the coast cleared, he ran across the freeway and opened my door. I scooted over. He climbed in behind the wheel and proceeded to veer my Plymouth across three lanes, out of on-coming traffic and onto the shoulder. Finally, in reverse, he maneuvered my car to the off-ramp.
After prying the hood back down to shut it, I thanked my rescuer and climbed behind the wheel. I plodded down the road, praying a cop wouldn’t pull me over.
Years later I still recall: When I needed help the most, a total stranger—or perhaps a guardian angel—came to my rescue and showed me compassion.