When you tell a friend who is going through a hard time that your “thought and prayers” are with them, you mean it. But some would say that your attempt to bring comfort amounts to empty words. I have a friend who would strongly disagree with those skeptics. He and I went through the Dale Carnegie Professional Training program together, and with tears in his eyes, and a shaky voice, he finally made it through this story.
His name is Terry.
Terry’s eyes shoot open! By the time he regains consciousness, he realizes that he is sitting up in bed. He’s not just sitting up, but his heart is also pounding in his chest. His breathing is short and quick.
What’s going on?!
He looks around the room and his eyes settle on the blue numbers on his digital clock on the nightstand. It’s 2:33 am.
He doesn’t know how he knows. But he knows. Something is very wrong. But what? How would I even know?…
Ben! It’s Ben! Something’s happened to my son! What can I do?! I don’t even know where he is!
The word wasn’t audible, but it might as well have been. There was authority behind it, and it wasn’t a request. It was a command.
Terry threw his covers off, jumped out of his bed and fell to his knees. Then he opened his mouth and said the first words that would come to any loving father’s mind.
“Dear God! Please…please, protect my son.”
(Exactly one minute and thirty seconds earlier.)
Ben is exhausted as he drives home after working the late shift.
Too much drama. Not enough pay. He thinks as he continues on, trying desperately to stay awake for the 25 minute commute.
His eyes start to droop as he navigates the dark windy roads of Northwest Arkansas.
BAM! He hears a sudden noise and opens his eyes! But it’s too late.
The right side of his car goes off of the steep shoulder and his wheels are turned sharply to the left. The axle holding the right front wheel bends as that tire takes the impact of the rocky ground and sends the mid-sized car flipping down the side of Highway 16.
Ben doesn’t notice the deafening crashing sounds, or the shattering glass that sends tiny shards into his arms and face. He is completely unaware of everything until
I can’t breathe!
He can barely move, but he does his best to groggily asses the situation. The car is upside down. His head and some of his upper body are outside of the car, but the rest is in some weird, twisted position around the steering wheel and dashboard. As the blood starts to fill his right eye, he makes one feeble effort to free himself and absolutely nothing moves. All he feels is the pain.
That’s when he realizes how desperate his situation is. The mangled car has pinned him to the ground and is crushing his chest. To be able to breathe, he would have to lift the entire weight of the car. His lungs slowly start to ache.
(75 miles away at that very moment.)
“Dear God! Please…please, protect my son…….” and the tears and groans of a loving father begin to flow.
Just as Ben is starting to lose consciousness he hears a faint sound. As it gets closer, he realizes that it sounds like someone walking on gravel. It seems like a dream, but it keeps getting closer. His will to hang on gets a boost when he sees a shoe less than a foot away from his head.
The steps stop, then he senses the person stooping down. His hand brushes Ben’s shoulder as he grips the edge of the twisted car.
The metal creaks loudly and tiny pieces of glass start falling like jagged drops of rain as the side of the 3,400 pound Camry is lifted completely off of the ground.
The oxygen burns as it enters his lungs and for a few moments he doesn’t notice the pain as the euphoria of being able to breathe sweeps over him.
As his breathing starts to slow, the pain returns. He doesn’t even try to locate the source because it feels like it’s coming from everywhere, and it is more pain than he has ever felt in his entire life.
As if his very welcome guest could sense his panic, he speaks.
“You’re going to be okay, Ben. Just don’t move.”
The words are confident….calm…loving…
A wave of peace flows over Ben as he drifts off into oblivion.
He opens his eyes when he hears the scream of sirens and all he can see is emergency lights flashing all around him. As his eyes adjust, he looks around him and thankfully takes a breath when he sees the same shoes right next to his head. He then looks at his chest where the car was crushing him. He takes a deep breath and winces as pain shoots through his ribs. Then he notices the car, still suspended 6 inches above his broken and bruised body.
How long have I been here?! he wonders to himself.
“About thirty minutes. But you’ll be out soon.”
Ben tries to move to see the man’s face, but he is leaning over and it is blocked by the car. As his clarity of thought starts to return, it occurs to him how crazy this all is.
“Sir, what is your….”
The emergency personnel quickly surround Ben, checking his vitals, telling him not to move. Soon the Jaws of Life come out and within minutes, Ben is on a stretcher being wheeled towards the waiting ambulance.
“Where is the man who helped me?” Ben asks, immediately realizing there is no way the EMT heart him over all of the noise.
“The man! Where is he?!”
The closest paramedic hears him. “Who’s that, son?”
“The one who helped me. I couldn’t breathe. He lifted the car.” His thoughts are still a little jumbled.
“He sure did, son!”
“Who is he?!”
“We don’t know. None of us have ever seen him before.”
“Well…where did he go?!” Ben asks, desperate to thank the man who kept him from suffocating.
“I’m not sure, son. He just started walking that way,” he said and pointed.
Right before they load him into the ambulance, Ben looks off in the direction the man is pointing and sees a nothing but a dark, windy road. He squints and strains his eyes until they hurt, and when he is totally convinced that there is absolutely nobody else on that deserted Arkansas road, he slowly turns his eyes towards the heavens.