When Angels Have No Names

When Angels Have No Names

A young boy's angelic vision brings comfort to a grieving family.

Joan Wester Anderson

I’ve reported on countless stories of angels.  It’s important to me that each of these stories is checked out as thoroughly as possible. I like to talk to the witness directly, and if there’s corroboration, such as newspaper clips or onlookers or medical reports, I’ll use them as well. But there are moments when I’m unprepared: Someone approaches me at a book signing when I have neither notepad nor tape recorder, or phones in on a radio show where I am a guest, or speaks up at a lecture, to tell a story of her own.

Invariably, during the hubbub these people get away before I am able to jot down their full names and addresses.  But their stories are too good to go untold.I may not have all their names right, but the facts are exactly as they were related to me.

During a book signing in Lexington, Kentucky, a group of women gathered around my table to tell about their neighbor, Barbara, who had not been able to come and tell me this story herself. Barbara was driving her six-year-old son, Benjamin, to his piano lesson. They were late, and Barbara was beginning to think she should have canceled it. There was always so much to do, and Barbara, a night-duty nurse at the local hospital, had recently worked extra shifts. She was tired. The sleet storm and icy roads added to her tension.

Maybe she should turn the car around. “Mom!” Ben cried.“Look!”

Just ahead a car had lost control on a patch of ice. As Barbara tapped the brakes, the other car spun wildly, rolled over, and then crashed sideways into a telephone pole. Barbara pulled over, skidded to a stop and threw open her door. Thank goodness she was a nurse–she might be able to help these unfortunate passengers. Then she paused. What about Ben? She couldn’t take him with her–little boys shouldn’t see scenes like the one she anticipated. But was it safe to leave him alone? What if their car were hit from behind?

For a brief moment,Barbara considered going on her way. Someone else was sure to come along. No!

“Ben, honey, promise me you’ll stay in the car!” “I will, Mommy,” he said as she ran, slipping and sliding, toward the crash site. It was worse than she’d feared. Two girls of high school age were in the car. One, the blonde on the passenger side, was dead, killed on impact.

The driver, however, was still breathing. She was unconscious and pinned in the wreckage. Barbara quickly applied pressure to the wound in the teenager’s head while her practiced eye catalogued the other injuries. A broken leg, maybe two, along with probable internal bleeding. But if help came soon, the girl would live.

A trucker had pulled up and was calling for help on his cell phone. Soon Barbara heard the ambulance sirens. A few moments later, she surrendered her lonely post to rescue workers.“Good job,” one said as he examined the driver’s wounds.“You probably saved her life, ma’am.” Perhaps. But as Barbara walked back to her car, a feeling of sadness overwhelmed her, especially for the family of the girl who had died. Their lives would never be the same.

O God, why do such things have to happen? Slowly Barbara opened her car door. What should she tell Benjamin? He was staring at the crash site, his blue eyes huge.

“Mom,” he whispered,“did you see it?” “See what, honey?” she asked. “The angel, Mom! He came down from the sky while you were running to the car. And he opened the door, and he took that girl out.” Barbara’s eyes filled with tears.“Which door, Ben?” “The passenger side. He took the girl’s hand, and they floated up to heaven together.” “What about the driver?” Ben shrugged.“I didn’t see anyone else.”  Later Barbara was able to meet the families of both victims. They expressed their gratitude for the help she had provided.

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