An angel suddenly appeared to bring my mother to her new home in heaven.
I was clearing up the breakfast dishes when the phone rang. “Something’s happened to your mom,” my dad said. He was trying to keep calm, but I could hear panic in his voice. “The ambulance should be here any minute.”
A rush of cold swept through my body, as if I could feel the blood draining to my feet. “Ambulance?”
“I found her collapsed on the floor. Hurry over! I’m alone here.”
I stumbled upstairs, jerked on my shoes and ran out to the car. Luckily my family all lived close together. My parents were only a few minutes away. I pulled out of my driveway and sped down the two-lane highway.
Mom hasn’t been well since the accident, I thought as I drove. She’d been hit by lightning and hadn’t truly recovered. God, be with her!
The front door to the house was thrown open when I arrived. I found my dad performing CPR in the hallway. Mom was stretched out on the floor in front of him. He looked up at me as I entered, his eyes full of anguish, his face white to the lips, sweaty with fear. I knew I’d carry the picture of it in my mind forever.
“Hang on, Mom,” I said, dropping to my knees to help Dad with the compressions. One, two, three... I counted them as I’d been taught in a life-saving course I’d taken at school. But would CPR be enough to help Mom? I touched my fingers to her wrist. No pulse. “Dear God, help us!” I said. “Help her, God!”
I leaned out the front door to search for the ambulance. The two-lane highway stretched out in both directions. Empty. About a hundred yards west, a gravel road turned off it toward a creek and picnic area. All quiet. Not a soul to be seen. How long since Dad called for help? I thought. When will they get here? “God, we need you!” I said.
I started to turn from the doorway. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flurry of movement across the road. Suddenly there was a man there. Alone. Where did he come from? Not a second before the road had been empty.
The man took slow steps one way, then turned on his heels and walked in the other direction. He held his hands clasped behind his back, his head hung low as if in serious contemplation, and he paced. Back and forth, slowly and with determination.
Why was this stranger pacing in front of our house? I knew everyone in our small community. I’d never seen this man in my life.
“It’s no use!” Dad said. The man was still visible through the open door. He looked agitated, as if waiting for something. “I hear the ambulance!” I said.
The white vehicle pulled up with its whirling lights and screeching tires, and a team of EMTs jumped out.
“We need oxygen! She’s not breathing!” I called to them.
Dad and I got out of their way. All I could do now was pray. I bowed my head and prayed harder than I ever had before. When I opened my eyes I was looking at the man again. He was still pacing back and forth, his hands clasped behind him, his head bent.
His loose, soft-gray tunic came down to his knees over loose brown trousers. I could see even from a distance that his outfit was made of linen. The intricate weave of the material seemed to shine in the early morning light. On his feet were braided leather sandals.
Even in the chaos of the moment the man looked out of place. This was a farming community. Men wore Levi’s or overalls with plaid or denim shirts. On another day I might have puzzled over where the man could have come from, but this wasn’t another day.
The wall clock ticked away the minutes as the EMTs gave Mom oxygen. There was no change. One of them took her pulse again. He looked up at me and shook his head. “She’s gone.”
I covered my face and wept.
The EMTs took Mom into the ambulance. Two of my aunts and uncles happened by and comforted Dad as best they could. I walked out to the road as the ambulance pulled away. How can this be happening? I thought as the taillights disappeared around a bend in the road. It didn’t seem real. I had prayed for God’s presence here. But Mom was gone.
My aunt Leila came up beside me and gave me a squeeze. I barely felt it. She started to lead me back into the house and then paused. “Who is that man?” she asked, nodding across the road.
He had stopped his frantic pacing. Now he was walking right up to me. Although his expression was calm and soothing, the air around him almost seemed to crackle with energy. His clothing glowed with the strange sheen I’d noticed earlier. His eyes were large and dark. His voice, when he spoke, was low and smooth.
“I am sorry about your mother,” he said, looking into my eyes.
Before I could reply he went back across the street. He hadn’t bothered to check for traffic.
“Who is that?” Aunt Leila asked again. “How do you know him?”
“I don’t.” So how had he known it was my mother who had just died?
We went inside, where the rest of the family was watching. No one had seen the man before and between all of us we knew everyone in the vicinity. I lingered in the doorway to see where the stranger would go. He returned to the spot where he had been pacing.
Then he was gone.
I stepped out into the yard and looked up and down the highway, and down the gravel road. There was no sign of him. One second he was there, and in the next second he was gone. As if he had vanished right before my eyes. Everything about this stranger was adding up to something incredible. This was no man.
That night in bed I went over every detail of what I’d seen, from the flutter that had announced the stranger’s presence to the kindness in his eyes. I knew he was not a man. Nor was he a healing angel sent to save Mom’s life, or a warrior angel like I’d read about in the Bible. This was a different kind of angel. An angel who waited to escort Mom to her new home in heaven.
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