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Mysterious Ways: The Lucky Accident

What good could come from a motorcycle wreck?

By Pat McKelley, Wooster, Ohio

We’re lucky to be alive, I thought, looking up at the flickering fluorescent light above my hospital bed. My husband, Tim, was recovering in the next bed over. This was hardly how I’d wanted to spend our 31st wedding anniversary–surrounded by beeping heart monitors and dripping IVs.

Tim and I had put months of planning into our special day. We barely saw each other during the week–I worked at a Christian home for abused kids and Tim worked long shifts at a factory–so I was excited to finally have some time with him.

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We hopped on our new, cherry red, Harley Softail, and headed out to a steakhouse to celebrate. I loved the feeling of the wind in my hair, my arms wrapped around Tim’s waist. Then came the sharp turn. The tires skidded on a patch of loose gravel. Tim lost control of the bike. I tumbled through the air… and everything went black.

I woke up with a broken back, four broken ribs, and a punctured lung. Tim needed surgery to put a plate in his head, and both his hands were in casts. The two of us would have to stay home from work for months.

God, I know I wanted more time with him, I thought, looking over at my husband, but this isn’t what I meant!

Our doctor came into the room, Tim’s chart in hand. “It will be a few weeks before we can get Tim scheduled for his surgery. But during his full body scan we saw a dark spot in his pancreas. I think we should get it tested.”

A dark spot? I wondered. Was he injured more than they thought? We quickly agreed to let the doctors look into it. They ran some tests. It was pancreatic carcinoma. Malignant.

Tim and I were shocked. Cancer? How could he be that sick without us knowing? The doctors removed the tumor a few weeks later, after he’d begun to recover from the accident, and scheduled him for chemotherapy and radiation treatments. “It’s a good thing we caught it now, before it was too late,” Tim’s oncologist said.

I ended up getting a lot more time to spend with Tim than a few months off work. 14 years, to be exact. Thanks to an accident that saved his life.