It's possible that I went through times of feeling alone and unloved and abandoned and lost, without hope or help—but they would have been measured in moments. Support was always there in helping hands, gentle hearts, last-minute rescues, rickety bridges, a few stones across the water, whatever psychological props might be needed to keep me from breaking in two. Even if I was drowning in dark waters of doubt and fear and anxiety, shafts of light streaming in from above somehow managed to reach me.
From very small things to super big huge things, I have endless stories about support showing up at just the right time in just the right way. After so many years as a single person and single mother, asking for help and depending on strangers became second nature. It was scary at first leaving mom and dad and the security of home base and feeling all alone in the world, but the sense of being protected and watched over and cared for grew with every perfect coincidence and every encounter of kindness. I never signed up for any extreme reality TV adventures like being dropped penniless in a strange city, but it always felt as if angels were on my shoulder—or visible and close by.
My youngest daughters were still in grade school when we started navigating life as a team and creating our own library of colorful stories, including the time we arrived at the movies on gas fumes. Fortunately, a station was a stone's throw from the theater parking lot. Not that any of us thought about that again as we piled back into the car and sped off. About a mile or two down the road a sinking, dying sensation under the gas pedal jogged my memory. Oh, God! Now what? This was BC (before cell phones) and I had no idea where we even were. I had taken the quiet, scenic, meandering route through a residential neighborhood instead of a busy major thoroughfare.
Just as our car was coasting to a dead stop, I caught sight of a policeman who had just turned down the opposite side of the street, which was unusually large and divided by a lushly landscaped median. With one hand still on the steering wheel, I opened the car door and leaned nearly halfway out to wave wildly in his direction. I was probably yelling "Haaalp!" as well but he would have been too far away to hear anything. It worked. He flipped around and rolled up behind us to investigate the commotion.
Our angel had arrived. He not only drove us to a nearby gas station in his squad car, he waited around to make sure it would start. And of course it didn't, even with his best coaching. So up went the hood so he could prime the carburetor and now his hands were smudged in black oil and smelled like gasoline. Fortunately, we always carried an arsenal of wet wipes in our trunk (never leave home without them). While he was cleaning up, we gave him a few more showers of thanks and appreciation and amazement that he was right there when we needed him.
That's when he laughed out loud: "It's more amazing than it seems because I never intended to drive down this street. It was more than a wrong turn, it's as if I came this way in a moment of total confusion—and almost immediately, I was saying to myself, "How on earth did that happen?" Then I looked over and there you were."