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Return of an Earth Angel

After being rescued two years before, she prayed that she might one day thank the young man who came to her aid. It was a prayer quickly answered.

By Helen Chade Mahshi, San Clemente, California

As appeared in

Waves lapped against the shore as I walked along the beach. The ocean was calm, but looking out at it I shivered, remembering a day two years before. I’d left my daughter, Anastasia, relaxing on the sand while I went for a swim. I got caught in a riptide that swiftly took me deep into the ocean.

The harder I fought, the more exhausted I got. But I didn’t get any closer to shore. Was Anastasia going to watch me drown? “God, I need help!” I gasped, barely able to keep my mouth above the water.

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A young man appeared in the surf. “Hang on to me,” he said. He sliced through the water with powerful strokes. We rode a wave in together until we stumbled onto the sand, his arm supporting me as I collapsed into the embrace of my daughter.

I hugged Anastasia tight and gulped in sweet sea air. By the time I looked up the man was gone. Anastasia couldn’t say which way he went.

I hope that man knows how grateful I am to this day, I thought, turning away from my memory. I stepped aside as someone came jogging down the beach–a young man who looked very familiar.

“You may not remember, but you once saved my life!” I said when he got close. “Thank you!”

He grinned, shyly. “You’re welcome!”

With another prayer answered, he was gone.


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