“We’ve lost all power steering,” he exclaimed.
This was a surprise to me since we had recently paid to rework the entire vehicle. We coasted into the only gas station in sight which was already closed.
After looking at the engine, Cody called our friend Michelle to bring a part. With the hood open and our arms covered in grease, we were too focused on examining the engine to notice a white sedan pull into the desolate gas station. We continued to work on our vehicle until our friend arrived. After pulling into the station, she handed Cody the part and he set to work, while I glanced up at the gas pumps. I had noticed a strange retching noise but never turned to look. Now looking over, I saw a woman hunched beside her car, inebriated and violently vomiting. “Should we call 911?” I asked, turning to Michelle. Once on the phone, the operator told Michelle there was no one available to help and that we would have to wait.
Worried that the woman would attempt to drive away, Michelle and I approached her. “Ma’am,” Michelle asked, “Can we call someone for you?” We pressed for a name, for any information she would give us, but she only slowly lifted her face and stared at me with an empty gaze. Feeling unsettled, I told her that I would go into her car and find her phone to call someone for her.
Using the woman’s thumb, Michelle unlocked the phone and went through the woman’s contacts and dialed the contact named “Mom”. Concerned, her mother hotly exclaimed she would come pick her daughter up.
While we waited, I offered the woman water and, after much insisting, she feebly drank from my water bottle with my assistance.
Close to Suicide
Minutes passed and the woman reluctantly turned to me. “I was going to kill myself tonight,” she slurred.
I had noticed two brunette-haired boys on her phone screen and was immediately alarmed. Painful memories resurfaced. My ex-boyfriend had attempted suicide multiple times, and I knew how excruciatingly painful it was to experience that kind of loss.
The woman poured out her story in a defeated voice. She was a guard at the local prison and had recently been sexually abused by an inmate. Her employer required her to fill out paperwork for incidents involving inmates, but she was wrestling with the decision. The inmate threatened that if she told anyone or filed the paperwork, he would send his gang to kill her and her entire family.
Silence filled the air. I had tears streaming down my face.
“This was gonna be my third time trying to kill myself tonight,” the woman continued.
I examined her anguished face. “I saw you have two little boys, and I know they love you so much and I know how much it would hurt them if you weren’t around,” I implored. My heart ached for her. I asked her if she had considered pursuing protection from the police and seeking counselling. She replied that she hadn’t.
Michelle told the woman how her own mother had killed herself and how it deeply hurt her. The woman listened intently and said she would like to seek help.
Once again, the woman peered at me through makeup-smeared eyes. “I don’t remember how I got here. I don’t remember driving.”
Looking up again at her vehicle, I noticed how perfectly parked it was. I was speechless.
A few minutes later, the mother’s car hurtled into the gas station. We talked to the mother, and she told us she knew about the situation but was not aware of the degree of pain her daughter was carrying. She thanked us and drove her daughter back home in her daughter’s vehicle after parking her own down the street.
Ten minutes later, a state trooper in a crisp uniform arrived and asked all of us questions. He expressed gratitude for our help in ensuring she got home safely and for calling in a drunk driver. Then the state trooper left, and Cody and I hopped into the car. It started without a hitch, letting out its steadfast purr. Overwhelmed, we drove back home.
I know God broke our vehicle and guided that woman to the gas station. How miraculously every detail lined up can only be proof of His work. Though we never celebrated our anniversary, my boyfriend and I agree that God had a much better plan that day.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Carlye Smedley writes from the Pacific Northwest.
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