I had just been to my children's school to discuss their progress with an administrator (and was delighted to discover they're doing well), when I pulled out of the parking lot and headed down the long, winding road towards home. Our house is a little over ten miles from the school, and it was an icy morning in the mountains of Colorado, so I was on high alert for motorists who might underestimate the slick roads. Fortunately, most people who live out here in the country are well aware of the tricky winter conditions, and to my naked eye, everyone appeared to be handling the trek well.
But my eyes deceived me.
It wasn't that anyone was speeding or attempting to text while driving. In fact, the other motorists were maneuvering quite cautiously. On top of that, I was driving ten miles per hour below the speed limit.
Yet just ahead and to the right of the main highway, I noticed a woman in a large SUV on a side road pulling up slowly to a stop sign. She couldn't have been moving more than ten miles an hour, obviously making adjustments for the weather conditions. Nevertheless, in the blink of an eye, her vehicle slid directly into my lane. Still sliding, the SUV was so large that within seconds it occupied nearly the entire width of the road, and the poor woman stared in horror from her driver side window at my oncoming car that was only a few feet from her door.
I know enough about winter driving in the mountains to realize that brakes are nearly useless in moments like this. All I could do was brace myself and swerve.
To my astonishment, I somehow made it around her car.
Even more surprising was the fact that, though my left-side wheels were forced to travel over an icy berm with an incline, my vehicle didn't slide.
My relief at managing not to plow into the woman's SUV, without flipping my own car over the slick berm, was short lived, however.
What I couldn't see beyond the woman's tall vehicle, was the other car in the oncoming lane that had just descended a hill and was now only a few feet away, about to crash into me head-on.
There were no more chances to pray.
The driver, another woman, had eyes as big and wide as the crisp, blue morning sky. The terrified look on her face, at the sight of my car about to meet hers, will be emblazoned on my mind forever.
Our situation appeared hopeless.
There simply weren't enough feet to spare—under the ordinary laws of physics—for me to avoid her onrushing vehicle that was moving even faster than mine.
What could I do, except try my best to swerve?
I have to confess, I've only experienced a few rare moments in life that seem to defy all of our notions of time and space—and this was one of them. Honest to God, I'll never know how, but I was all of a sudden on the other side of the road. Wa-a-a-y over on the other side. It was as though some unseen set of arms had lifted my car and transported it from the two vehicles that appeared destined to crush me.
The highway photograph I've displayed at the very top of this post should have been the scene of my death. Of their deaths. What we three drivers were looking at was the certainty of a 3-car collision, involving two cars which were traveling at higway speeds, with no space to maneuver by anyone without crashing or flipping a couple of the vehicles.
But instead, I found myself pulling to the far right-side berm of the road, where I took several deep breaths. I wish I could say I screamed or hyperventilated, because that would have made me seem more normal under such circumstances. But the truth was, I was filled with the most extraordinary peace. My heart was not racing, nor was adrenaline popping and fizzing through my veins. For a moment, I pinched myself, wondering if perhaps I'd died and not realized it, and therefore felt no fear or pain. After all, many people who've reported near-death experiences describe how they suffered brutal accidents and hovered over their bodies for several minutes, unaware that their souls had slipped from the flesh. By the third time I pinched myself, however, I understood that I was, in fact, still here. What's more, I spied in my rear view mirror that the first woman in the SUV had pulled to the side of the road, too, and had gotten out of her car. Immediately, I jumped out and ran down the pavement to meet her.
HOW did she escape not being hit by me or the other woman's car? How did I? From my new vantage point, I spotted the other's woman's vehicle parked alongside the road as well. Her car hadn't crashed or flipped over the icy berm, either. This situation defied all logic: There simply wasn't enough room on the edge of that mountain road to have accommodated all three of us.
When I reached the young SUV driver, who looked to be college-age, her eyes were filled with shock and her mouth was gaping, lips twitching nervously, yet unable to speak. "Are you all right?" I asked her. All she could do was nod in reply, and I instantly wrapped my arms around her. "It's okay." I assured her, "I'm not hurt." At this point I pulled back a bit and saw that her eyes were welling with tears. "I-I'm so sorry!" she blurted, shaking. "M-My brakes locked on the ice and I couldn't stop!"
I hugged her again and told her I understood—these things happen sometimes. Then I swept the hair from her forehead and gazed into her eyes. "Honey," I said, "you must have the best Angels on planet earth. Because I can see no reason why both of us are still standing here." The way she nodded and glanced at me with a spooked expression confirmed everything I'd already suspected: that she thought she there was something unnatural—no, supernatural—about this whole experience, too.
To our relief, the other woman driver waved at us and called out that she was fine, before starting up her car and continuing back down the mountain road. But the young woman in front of me remained frozen, still attempting (and not really succeeding) to cope with what had just happened. Although I gave her another squeeze for reassurance, finally I just came out and said it: "Sweetheart," I shook my head a little in lingering bewilderment, "it's a miracle. There's no other way to describe this or put it in your brain. Like I said," I glanced at the sky for a second, "you have incredible Angels."
With that, I began to feel her tension release. Though I don't even know the young woman's name, we both understood on that cold, remote highway in Colorado that we had been, well . . . spared. That was the only explanation that made any sense.
I linked my arm through hers and walked her back to her car, where I gave her one last grip around the shoulders and told her she'd be fine. "Live your life well," I urged, "because we both still get to have one." I could see the tears pool in her eyes again as she nodded and got into her SUV, then started it up and waved while she pulled back onto the pavement and disappeared down the mountain road.
Such was our date with destiny. Obviously, as I made my way home in my car that morning, I realized I'd been shown a fleeting portal to leave this plane of existence, and yet despite all the odds, I remained here. Given that it was the start of a new year, I naturally wondered why, what purpose I'd been spared to serve. Of course, like anyone else, I have my "to-do" ideas of plans and goals for 2016, which could have easily been ripped from me in a heartbeat, along with the cherished love of my husband and children. I don't claim to know all the ramifications of why anyone is given a hall pass from an untimely death. But one thing I do know, as I drove slowly, mulling over what had just happened on the road home: My spirit somehow felt bigger than it did before. Not bigger as I think of my temporal self with all my transient ambitions, but more like boundaryless, as though something in me had expanded that day to more fully take in the morning sky. The glistening trees. The shadowy mountainsides. That cool feeling of winter breath against your lungs that slowly warms as it stirs within you before you exhale. The gentle throb of a relentless heart. And maybe that's what "miracles" are all about, those rare intersections in time and space that defy our comprehension of physical laws: they allow us to "know" something larger than before. The confines of words may never quite articulate what that is, but the heart feels it, deep inside. And no matter where we are or what we're doing, we realize in that moment that we're supposed to be here. Something made sure of that for me on that icy morning in early 2016.
And for me, I will continue to let it widen me inside until I fully appreciate the breadth and gift of this life.
Have you ever experienced a miracle?
I'd love to hear about it.
Please feel free to describe your story
in the comments section below. <3