Message from Above

By Linda O’Connell

The image of my red car in motion flashed sporadically in my mind for two weeks, whether I was asleep or awake. I didn’t tell anybody about my premonition. Because details were unclear, I tried to forget about the vision. Sunday morning I drove us to breakfast, since Bill had a knee injury. I waited at the stop light for the green arrow to make a left turn. As I pulled slowly into the intersection, I heard approaching danger before I saw the older, full-size pickup truck gunning toward the driver’s side of my car. As the driver barreled at a high rate of speed, I felt terrified, completely helpless, but surprisingly calm, as once again I experienced the red car image flash in my mind.

“Bill, we’re going to get hit,” I said with little emotion. The truck violently plowed into my car’s left front end, broke my axle, and bent the wheel under my car. The impact spun the car two lanes over, oscillated us side to side, jarring our bodies and brains. I struck my head, suffered severe pain, headache, and dizziness. Traumatized, holding my pounding head, I was more concerned about my husband. His injured leg was wedged under the dash. We were both in shock and unable to dial 911. Kind bystanders assisted us and called for emergency assistance. Reputable witnesses testified the traffic light was in our favor.

Instead of going to breakfast, we were transported to the hospital. We bypassed the crowded, antiseptic-smelling emergency waiting area and were immediately taken to separate examination rooms.

“Please find out how my husband is. He’s a big guy and may act like he’s fine, but I know he’s hurt.”

“Shhh! Don’t worry about him, he’s in good hands. Breathe slowly and deeply,” the kind, young nurse said. “You’re setting off all your alarms.”

Dazed and confused, I looked up to see an overhead monitor broadcasting reruns of my late mother’s favorite sitcom, The Golden Girls. As I lay on the exam bed waiting for a CT scan I prayed, “Please don’t let me have a brain bleed or concussion.”

The nurse entered swiftly and demanded to know who upset me. “Are you listening to the police officers discussing your accident?”

“No. I was praying. My car’s a goner, and I’m thankful I’m not.”

“You have to find something else to focus on. Your blood pressure is elevated, and you’re holding your breath. Breathe!”

I tried deep breathing, but I kept reliving the forceful impact of the collision. I could hear the gunning engine and the grinding metal.

“You are going to have to calm down. Look up above you at the TV.”

I was amazed Mom’s favorite old show was playing in my ER examination room on Sunday morning. I focused on the antics of the four Golden Girls. Little Sophia, the feisty, outspoken grandma had always reminded our family of my late mom, Virginia. They both had spunk.

My adult son was first to arrive at the hospital. “Look up there at our little Golden Girl,” I told Jason, as I applied pressure to the goose egg rising above my temple. Estelle Getty, playing the character of Sophia, was scolding her daughter. “Aw relax; you’re going to be okay.”

I smiled at my son. “Think that’s a message from your Grandma?”

He laughed and reminisced about how Mom and Sophia looked and acted so much alike.

“Son, if that guy had hit my car three feet back, I’d be dead or critically injured.”

Sophia’s voice snapped, “Relax! It will all be fine.”

Jason and I looked at one another and nodded. I felt a comforting presence come over me. “I feel Mom with me. She’s my guardian angel.”

When my daughter arrived, she said, “Aw, Mom, look up; there’s Gram. It’s little Sophia.”

“I know, honey. She’s been talking to me.”

Tracey looked into my eyes; she probably thought I had brain damage. She tried to distract me. “You know Gram would sure love our babies,” she said, referring to her daughter’s three little boys under four years of age.

“You’re right; she would. Hand me my purse. I need my cell phone.”

“Mom, you can’t call Gram.”

“I know.” I pulled up my photos and scrolled through countless pictures of my sweet great grandsons’ smiling faces.

The nurse, who had been hustling in and out to remind me to relax and take deep breaths, peeked in with a confused expression. “What are you doing now?” She raised her eyebrows, smiled, and gestured. “Whatever you all are saying, or she’s doing, encourage your mom to keep doing it. Her stats are now within the normal range.”

My heart rate elevated again and set off bells and whistles when my husband came hobbling into my room assisted by his daughter Robin. His leg was banged up, but he was not seriously injured. Bill reached to hug me. “I’m so grateful you’re okay,” we said in unison. Our tears flowed as we embraced, which brought our kids to tears.

I said, “We’ll be able to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary next week. My mom and Sophia were here with me.”

Puzzled, Bill asked, “Your mom? Who’s Sophia?”

I pointed to the TV, and we smiled. Other than contusions, we did not sustain serious injuries.

A few days later, someone asked if I was angry with the driver who had been driving under the influence of narcotics.

“No,” I replied remembering the life lessons my mom had taught me: Forgive even when you can’t forget, and never hold a grudge. “That guy and his female passenger are far worse off than we are. They have no insurance, no vehicle now, and serious injuries from not wearing seat belts. I hope this was their wake-up call. All I can do is wish them well.”

The messages of forgiveness, Mom instilled, have lasted me a life time. I’m convinced messages arrive in all forms “from above,” often disguised as coincidences.

About this writer

  • Linda O’Connell

    Linda O’Connell

    A preschool teacher for almost four decades, Linda is notorious for holding her life together with duct tape and humor. Her greatest loves are family, the beach and dark chocolate.

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7 Responses to “Message from Above”

  1. Linda–What an uplifting story. There were moments that made me smile, and moments that tugged at my heartstrings.

    What your story did the most is remind me what is important. Damage to a car. Time spent in a hospital. None of that matters as long as you survive and are “back to normal.”

    (However, since I know your husband, I will add that he is never “normal” ;)

    Thanks for writing and sharing this story. It’s a great way to start the new year–with gratitude.

  2. Pat Wahler says:

    Wonderful story! I love how the Golden Girls helped you relax. They make me smile too.

  3. Yep, I’m convinced about those messages, too, Linda. Especially the ones that come from Golden Girls! :-)

  4. Val says:

    Of all the TV shows that could have been playing in your ER room, it was THAT one! No coincidences. Glad you and Bill made it through that incident okay.

  5. Linda, I always enjoy your essays.

  6. Anyone who’s been in a wreck which has totaled one’s car understands how you felt : shocked, disoriented, and ultimately thankful. You’ve woven several take-away messages into your story which make it interesting to read as well as memorable. Glad it all turned out well.

  7. Rose Ann says:

    A close call, signs recognized and the gift of forgiveness–a story to learn from! So glad that you are both okay and you could share a valuable (and scary) experience!

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