Thursday, December 10, 2009

Guardian Angels

I'm a big believer in guardian angels. I don't care what they're called. "Personal Pixie" works too. Or "Guiding Spirit" or any other term that fits with your own beliefs. They don't have to be separate entities. I think certain people just come into our lives sometimes because we need them. The best part about this is that it gives us ALL a chance to be the guardian angel in someone's life without even realizing it.

One of the first times I experienced this was when my roommate and I were preparing to drive home for Thanksgiving my sophomore year of college. It was late and we were young: the car was stocked with candy for the five hour drive home as well as a trunk stuffed to the brim with whatever it is that college kids accumulate. I only know for sure that there was a large pair of sparkly fairy wings laid on top of everything. My wings, to be exact.

We had just turned the corner of campus and were making a left turn into the gas station. As my roommate began to turn, another car made a left turn out of the Rite Aid across the street. The old lady driving the car must have been going 20 miles an hour. And she never once slowed down as she plowed right into my side of the car--not until we went up over the curb and the tire exploded, bringing both cars to a full stop.

Everything that happened next was surreal. Unlike me, my roomie hadn't seen the car coming. She didn't even understand what had happened. Then two guys, really "goons" would be the best word to describe them, came out to survey the damage. As they forced my door open one of them gleefully commented, "If that car had hit you any differently, the frame would have collapsed. You'd be dead."

My roommate burst into tears. I managed to hold it together until I called my parents to tell them I wouldn't be coming home that night. The car was totaled. The police arrived. The old lady who hit us was a Maine local. We were Bates students and, worse, the plates said Massachusetts. Further incriminating us was the completely muddled, confused testimony of the old lady, who couldn't figure out where she had been on the road. I had to set the record straight, in spite of a cop that looked like he thought that getting into an accident was exactly what a couple careless college girls deserved. I thought I heard the gas station goons laughing at us.

No one had so much as asked if we were okay. We were nineteen and scared.

"The tow truck's on his way," the cop said with a smirk. "You don't have anything in the car, do you?"

Our faces fell. We didn't even bother answering. It was just too embarrassing.

Then the tow truck showed up. The man that walked out was nothing less than an angel as far as I'm concerned. He even looked the part: wiry Mainer with creased skin and white hair. He let us sit in the truck because it was November in Maine at night and we were freezing. He assured us that the accident wasn't our fault. He told us not to worry about our stuff in the trunk: he would drive us back to our dorm in the tow truck and help us unload everything before taking the car away.

He asked us if we were okay and told us we would be better soon.

Not only did he drive us back to campus and unload all our belongings (carefully removing the fairy wings and laying them across my hands without a word). He also helped us carry everything back into the dorm before wishing us a good night and happy Thanksgiving.

I'll never forget him.

Today another angel stepped into my life (though, thankfully, under less traumatic circumstances). Cathy, my dental hygienist, had no idea I was a writer or that I was writing a novel. That I had completed one! This accomplishment in and of itself amazed her. She didn't ask if it was good--she already knew it was. She was so positive, so encouraging. She gave me her personal email, declaring that she wanted to be, "the first to buy a signed copy," when my book was published. She announced that the move to Vermont was "so exciting!" That there would be so many opportunities there and that these sorts of things happen for a reason. And she even hugged me goodbye. I don't usually do hugs but today it felt good.

Cathy helped me take a step back and feel excited instead of afraid--about the journey to Vermont and the journey to publication. And for that I'm very grateful.

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