a real-life adventure
Read Part XVI here.
Now available in ebook format!
Before packing what few belongings we had into the waiting van of a friend who'd volunteered to transport us back to our northern abode, we were escorted, by my request, to the room of four genuine angels. I remember tiptoeing because the room literally felt lighter, softer, as if I was walking into a department of heaven. His room wasn't any different than mine, but the sun had peeked through the clouds for the first time in several days, and the glowing smiles on the faces of the occupants made me feel as if I'd stepped onto a higher plain. Tears flowed freely as we took turns gently hugging the body cast of my hero and aggressively embracing his wife, son and daughter.
Louis had been heading south on I-25 the first day of a family vacation when he saw my car flip from two vehicles back. An off-duty police officer, he instinctively stopped to render aid. In piecing together our stories, I learned that my kids had seen Louis' feet on the grass through the upside down window on the side of the car opposite of where we got hit by the semi. The kids both crawled toward him and were shielded by the hands of unseen angels when the glass and metal sprayed. If my kids had not moved to the other side of the car...
Now I was looking upon a man who had risked his life to save my kids. No one knew, of course, that a second accident was about to happen. He was doing what he'd been trained to do and what came naturally to him. My kids saw a potential escape from our upside down smoky tomb, and they acted quickly.
My kids had no bandages, no visible bruises, no life-threatening injuries. Yet Louis was sheathed in a pocket of medical and surgical protective wear. His appearance caused me to quiver. Every bone in his body must be broken, I thought. He smiled at me and warmly greeted me, even though it was obvious he was in pain and not comfortable.
Waves of guilt washed over me again. I did this to him. I did this to his family.
In the next few minutes, I heard the story from yet a new point of view. His wife and children had watched as he stooped over to open my upside down car door and free my kids. They witnessed the crushing blow as the semi bounced off my car and narrowly avoided hitting them. They saw my car swing around and pin Louis. Speechless, they prayed he might still be alive.
Louis could see the emotions tearing me apart. He is blessed with a bottomless reservoir of compassion. He attempted to distract me with the story of how he adopted his two children, a boy and a girl, close in age to my own. What he didn't know is that I had adopted my children, too. Different circumstances, and different ages, but we were bound together by more than just a couple of out-of-control vehicles on a rainy day. The day I was released from the hospital became the day I forged a new friendship with someone who could sympathize with the hardships of adoption, as well as the fear of cars and driving. Of all the hundreds of the people out on the highway that May 25th, the lives that were drawn together were the lives that already had common ground. Survival wasn't the only miracle that day.
Read Part XVIII here.
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Copyright 2013 by Deborah and Brett Atkinson