A Letter from Her Late Grandmother Helped Her Cope with the Pandemic

A special heaven-sent sign from above guided her safely home.

Posted in , Aug 26, 2020

A woman in her car looking out at a guiding light during night. Illustration by Daniel Liévano

Stuck in the house, I was struggling to find productive ways to spend my time. The Covid-19 pandemic had kept me inside for so long already, and there was no end in sight. Fear and worry could get the better of me in a swirl of unknowing, with so much completely out of my control. What could I do today to keep myself grounded?

If looking toward the future proved too much for right now, I’d look to the past. Perhaps this was the “rainy day” I’d been waiting for to get to that genealogy research I was interested in. I pulled out the boxes of family documents I’d saved and dragged them to the kitchen table. Lord, let this be my answer just for today.

First, I had to get organized. As I made separate piles for birth certificates, photographs, letters, I came upon a birthday card from my Grandma Webb, the last one she had sent me. Grandma was an inveterate letter writer, never forgetting a holiday or a milestone, and I couldn’t resist getting ahead of my organizing to read what she’d said in this one: “Never forget that God has a plan for all of us.”

To illustrate that fact, Grandma Webb had once told me a story I’d committed to memory.

Grandma was driving home late on the rainy night of her son Frank’s funeral. Her son Carl was asleep in the back seat with his little sister. Carl, who had driven them to the funeral, had started the drive back, but Grandma had taken over the wheel when he came down with a splitting headache. She had no experience driving long distances and had never driven in such bad weather. But they all wanted to get home. I could easily picture her now on that dark, stormy highway, her knuckles white as she gripped the wheel, peering through the downpour at every roadside sign, the only sound the kweeshway, kweeshway of the windshield wipers.

“The oncoming headlights of another car almost blinded me,” Grandma had told me. She pulled over to the side of the road, shoulders shaking, and laid her head on the steering wheel. “That’s when I remembered what I’d failed to do before I got behind the wheel.” She’d forgotten to pray! “I knew I couldn’t get us home myself, so I asked God to get us there. Just saying the words, I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I noticed the rain had stopped. The sky was so clear I could even see stars.”

It must have taken a lot of faith to keep going, I thought, looking again at the card, but Grandma Webb had no shortage of faith. She got back on the road and came up behind a big truck with an overhead light. “The light got brighter and brighter,” Grandma had said to me, and she realized it wasn’t on the truck at all. It was a star, positioned so that it was just above her steering wheel, right in her direct line of vision. She didn’t even have to crane her neck to see it. The star stayed before her, around every curve, until the road came to a junction. Suddenly it was gone. She’d lost her star! She wondered if she’d imagined the whole thing. “Then I said to myself, Marybelle, you placed this trip in God’s hands. He won’t give up if you don’t. I looked to my right,” she said to me, hanging on her every word, “and what do you think I saw?”

“Your star!” I answered her long ago question again, right out loud at my own kitchen table, almost able to see the star myself, even without Grandma Webb sitting beside me.

“My star,” she’d said. “Up there in the sky, showing me the way. ‘Praise the Lord!’ ” Grandma sang the rest of the way, until she heard the crunch of the gravel beneath her wheels in her driveway. She climbed out of the car into the cold night air, muscles stiff, and woke her son and daughter to see the star that had kept them all safe. But when she looked up into the sky it was gone.

I tucked Grandma’s card back into its pile on the kitchen table. She’d put her faith in God to lead her when she couldn’t see the way. That’s just what I would do today and for as many tomorrows as it took until the pandemic was under control. I didn’t know when that would be, but God did, and He would guide me through. My genealogy project had set me off in the right direction.

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