Snow had been falling since I finished work. It was powdery and the air was bitterly cold, everything stilled to stone by it, quiet and lifeless. When I left for home from my friend Tara’s, my mind was still wandering the stoic halls of a monastery from a movie we had watched. I inhaled the icy air, starting my car, and my lungs became like loveless stone walls themselves. Cold slows the world into her sleep, and as I drove I felt her hands around my heart.
In the first 7 minutes on the road, I watched the surreal dance of cars, all going around me at their own speed ranging from 20 to 60 mph. We were all passing and being left behind at the same time. I came to the exit ramp from 35W onto 10 west, which curves up to the right for a bit then, curves sharply left to cross back over the 35.
That strangeness in my heart was suddenly one with my body and I realized the car was moving:
I could do nothing. I held the wheel and my arms moved, but I had no spacial awareness of direction or speed or distance.
“Oh God, Father help me, Father help me, Father help me!”
The moments were suspended, movement wildly uncontrolled and chemical hum rose from my stomach up through my throat. I knew there were cars near me, but I had no idea where or how to avoid them. Hands tight and body pressed into the seat, my car and God and I were moving. Then we were spinning and I saw blare of headlights through my windshield. as we heaved through drifts into the guardrail.
Time started again and my breathing. I shook.
Becoming my own body again, with God drawn around me, I looked in the rearview and saw a car pull over, not sure if he had been behind or ahead of me when the accident started. The flashers went on and a man came walking down the shoulder toward me.
I looked ahead and the oncoming cars muddled past, like wide eyed people around a fresh fainter, hesitant and peering with headlights. Slow down I thought at them. I imagined a car losing control and hitting me, but then I put the thought away—I simply didn’t believe it, because God was so close to me.
I rolled down my window to meet a kind face of a young man my age, and my voice rang out a hello with a clear tone that woke me a little. His name was Brian.
“Can I sit with you for a minute?”
“Yes, of course.” I was relieved, it was a kind question and exactly what I wanted him to do.
“I don’t want to be creepy or anything—“
“No,” I said, “You’re very kind, thank you.”
We talked through the accident and he ran through what he saw, me half listening and shaking. He began telling me about an accident he had, and I kept responding, “Yeah?” but my eyes had caught the skid marks on the sloping curve of the ramp, and I traced through the accident.
My car was hugging the guardrail, which ended just about `15 feet ahead of my bumber. Beyond that point, the edge of the ramp sloped down in a steep hill littered with trees, perhaps 50-75 feet down. The sight of the tire marks made my heart pound: my car had swung over toward the steep ledge, less than two feet away, and then swerved over two lanes, to the other side of the road, spun around to face oncoming traffic and slid back again to the other side of the road, skidding parallel into the guardrail.
Had I contined a split second longer on the first swerve, I would have gone over the ledge. Had I not spun after swerving back to the left, and slid back to the right side, I would have hit the concrete half wall on the left side of the road, sitting right in the way of oncoming traffic and in their blind spot coming around the curve of the ramp.
“God saved me,” I said suddenly to Brian, with a smile, “I have a good Dad.”
I pointed out the skid marks.
“Even if I had died, it would have been okay,” I thought and spoke at the same time, dumbfounded.
I don’t know if he really heard that, he went on talking about getting me turned around while I imagined an angel standing at that ledge, pushing my car away from it.
We waited for a gap in the cars exiting on the ramp and I asked Brian to stay with me while I turned around.
I pulled out away from the rail; Daddy gave me a gap with plenty of time, and I drove Brian up the ramp to his car, 25 yards. He had been in Roseville, just like me, and lived in Coon Rapids, the suburb just south of my house. So, I thanked Brian and followed him almost the whole way home, moving slow.
The cold in my soul had vanished the moment my car hit that guardrail. Daddy was there, and I knew immediately I was safe. I felt more safe after the accident than I can ever remember feeling in the greatest comfort. I was warm, body and spirit, with his affection as I drove off, and I felt his face blazing next to mine.
My heart was leaping, thrilled that death and danger had come for me, and my Father stood up with his hand raised, saying, “No. I AM.”
(true story, Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 1 a.m. )