Names, places and identities have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the people in this story.
She had finished her afternoon run and parked her school bus. It was her first day back to work after her mother had passed away. Suddenly the grief was too overwhelming, the thought that her mother lay injured in her wrecked car, her body broken, trapped, in agonizing pain for God knows how many hours with no one around her except the humid heat of a southern afternoon and the wind sighing through the trees lining the little country road.
She put her head down on the steering wheel and sobbed, uncontrollably, her mother alone on the country road, her dear sweet, gentle, mother who had fought back Covid and survived when everyone thought she would not make it. She had fought back all the respiratory complications and survived and was finally well enough to return to normal life and was able to drive down the country road that took her to the city once again, and now this………..
Through her tears and the unrelenting pain of her grief she could hear the bus phone ring. No one had the number except the central office and no one used it except the superintendent of buses and that also if it was an emergency.
She raised her head and looked at the handset next to the driver’s seat, the light was blinking and the phone was ringing……. Who was calling her? for an emergency?
She picked up the phone the voice at the other end seemed clear as a bell as if someone was sitting in the bus next to her. “ Mrs. M this is Meg” it was the voice of a young woman. “, I was the student you used to talk to in elementary school bus rides when I was sad and unhappy as the children made fun of me because I stuttered. …….. Do you remember me?” and the young voice paused.
Mrs. M was speechless, but arising out of the shadows of the bus was this memory of a little girl sitting in the third row and crying softly all the way home. She had called her to come sit in front and talked to her. She was a devout Christian when it came to belief. “ What is the matter child” she would ask and every day the little girl would tell her how her classmates and kids on the playground made fun of her when she stammered while she called out the numbers of the score in the game.
“ no, no no one loves me……” she would stammer. The little girl would sob, hiccups ending her speech.
Mrs. M would say “I know one who definitely loves you” The little girls’ eyes would light up as she would ask questioningly leaning forward in her seat” Who is that?” she would ask.
“Jesus loves you” Mrs. M would then relate stories from the Bible.
As time passed the little girl stopped crying and as soon as the last child stepped off the bus, she would move up near the driver’s seat and ask her to tell her a story from the Bible
On the second to last day of First grade before summer break, Meg had come to her before getting off the bus, and said, “ Mrs. M we are moving to another area with a different school, I won’t see you but I love you and I will miss you! ” and she had hugged her as best she could with the steering wheel sticking into her ribs, hanging on to her neck as if her life would end.
On the last day as Meg got ready to get off, she did not look at Mrs. M, who called her. “ Meg I have a gift for you” and handed her own Bible to her. “You keep this with you and read it when you feel sad and remember that Jesus loves you”. Meg had turned to receive the Bible, eyes filled with tears, and silently hugged Mrs. M and that was the last time she had seen her.
Mrs. M…..? The phone crackled, “ Yes” replied Mrs. M” I remember you Meg you and I talked a lot as you were the last to get off the bus, didn’t we?”
Mrs. M I am 18 now and I still have your Bible” she paused. “I got your number from the office because I want to tell you something……….
“We found your mother in the car wreck and we sat with her till the ambulance took her away she was alive when we got to her and we talked to her like you used to talk to me. …….” And her voice trailed off. “ I held her hand till the highway patrol officers came and one of them sat in the passenger’s seat and held her hand and reassured her till the ambulance came with the jaws of life….” she stopped. the scene of the beautiful fragile woman being removed by cutting open the car choked her.
Mrs. M, her voice soaked in tears said “ Thank you, Thank you God I prayed so hard that someone would be with my mother in her last moments….”
Tears coursing down her cheeks she thanked Meg again and again…..her voice cracking thinking of the little girl now a big girl giving solace to her mother in her last moments…..
“ I still have your Bible Mrs. M and I pray for you every night and now will also for your mother”
There was a crackle in the phone and another voice came on” Mrs. M I am Meg’s mother, I cannot thank you enough for what you did for Meg and how you helped my daughter in elementary school, May God bless you. I wanted to let you know that we were by your mother’s side for the whole time while waiting for the ambulance and held her hand, and I also wanted to let you know that the state patrol officer sat with her till the ambulance came and also sat with her in the Emergency Room, till family came.”
Mrs. M raised her head “Thank you God she prayed, thank you for sparing her the aloneness at the accident, you took her but thank you for sending your angels to watch over her and for her not being alone and scared and in pain, in her last moments……..thank you, thank you! Thank you!
It was an exceptionally hot summer and the air conditioner in their car had failed. They had the windows down with the wind blowing their hair and it didn’t matter because they were going to the hairdresser in the city to get their hair done.
Her mother was driving. As they turned the curve in the country road and their car slowed down Meg noticed something white in the trees.
“Mom look it is a car in the woods” shouted Meg, ” Please stop! stop! stop !the car has crashed into the tree…..someone might be injured”Both mother and daughter having grown up in the south, knew how to navigate the woods while avoiding the poison ivy that grew at surprising places and hugged the ankles of the uninitiated branding them with the fire of the famous southern poison ivy rash.
Meg got out of their car and ran in her high heels, tripping over the long dress as they were going to a wedding straight from the hairdressers and were already dressed for it. Her mother parked the car on the thin shoulder and gingerly started to descend into the brush.
There was no one on the road, the wind sighed in the southern Pines and rustled the lush oaks encouraging them to shed some acorns to ensure the next generation of oaks. Life in the south perpetuates itself, and usually large swathes of rural land go untouched by man’s destructive habits.
Both mother and daughter having grown up in the south, knew how to navigate the woods while avoiding the poison ivy that grew at surprising places and hugged the ankles of the uninitiated branding them with the fire of the famous southern poison ivy rash.
They arrived at the wreckage of the white car, the window of the car was open and a well-manicured hand of a woman turning pale in the southern sun clutched the edge of it. “ The fingers moved. Meg looked at her mother “ she is alive…..”
“Meg call 911 her mother whispered…….as she heard a groan from the car,
There was a well-dressed woman in the car and there was also a lot of blood.
“Ma’am we are here to help you……” she addressed the lady in the car, who looked at her with eyes glazed with helplessness and something else.
“ I don’t know what happened….” Said the lady in the car and fainted.
Meg had called 911……….. and she was running up back to the road and screaming “ help, please help…….is there anyone to help?”
Her mother held the hand which was clutching the window and was progressively getting cooler, paler and weaker. She was panicking inside but murmured soothing words of reassurance.
The woman in the car opened her eyes and said….” I survived covid but I don’t know what happened” and then her head lolled sideways.
The police came first, then the ambulance and the jaws of life came together and began the tedious process of cutting the car to release the woman inside…..
Meg looked at the young policeman accompanying the officer in the highway patrol car and saw him wipe away a tear.
Back on the Bus phone the conversation crackled with static as the shadows lengthened.
“ Mrs. M Your Mom was never alone; we were with her the whole time in the forest…..”said Meg.
Mrs. M remembered asking the Doctor in the Emergency Room “ what happened to my mother?” she was perfectly healthy after recovering from Covid?”
“Your mother was in a diabetic coma,” said the Doctor
“ But she never had diabetes……..” said Mrs. M
The Doctor looked with compassion at the daughter of the dead woman and said “ sometimes Covid does strange things to the body even after it has left it……”
Mrs. M raised her head from the wheel she felt the comforting hands of little Meg on her shoulder: an elementary school student, who was once hurting from being teased and today she was the one who provided solace to Mrs. M and stood by her mother at the end moments of her life………..
Two angels had come to her mother’s crashed car and held her hand and comforted her, for this she was immensely grateful!
She raised her head from the steering wheel of the school bus and felt the hand of the Lord touching her cheek, wiping off her tears. Wasn’t He the one who sent them?