I woke up this morning with the words to Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel" rolling through my head. By the time you finish reading this post, I think you will understand why.
(Disclaimer: As a rule I make an effort to ensure that my posts are appropriate for every possible set of eyes that might stumble upon them; however, today's entry MAY NOT BE SUITABLE for MY MOTHER's eyes. Having said that, and because I know you [mom] just ignored my warning, I'd recommend you sit down and take a deep breath before proceeding....)
(Disclaimer #2: This is a LONG post.... Sorry about that. I tried to keep it as short and sweet as possible, but there was so much to share. Hopefully its worth your time to make it to the end!)
Before we left for our Labor Day weekend trip to Manti, Utah this past weekend my husband had a feeling not to go. Despite his hesitancy, we went anyway. About half way there his truck broke down. Usually we caravan, me pulling the "toys" (the boat, or in this case our 4 wheelers) and Ryan pulling the trailer. But on Friday I traveled ahead of him, expecting him to arrive about 20 minutes behind me... well, he didn't.
"What more could possibly go wrong?" That's the phrase that kicked off our 2012 Labor Day Weekend. We threw a smile on our faces and moved on, thinking that since we'd hit our "low" at the beginning of our trip, things could only get better, right?... Wrong. Every time we turned around it seemed that a new challenge was thrown our way - Seven of them big enough to give me heart attacks, in fact. Here's a brief recap:
1. The truck broke down.
2. We lost my husband - In a black t-shirt, in a mountain pass, after dark, alone.
3. The tow truck never showed up!
4. We lost my son!
5. My 4wheeler developed a dangerous "pull" at exactly the same time that my less-experienced driver of a daughter took the wheel... I mean, handlebars!
6. My husband & son crashed going down a steep, slippery grade on their 4wheeler.
7. I mamboed back and forth across the interstate with an out of control trailer.
So, there it is in a nutshell, my Seven Heart Attack weekend. It was literally one survival adventure after another and definitely more stress than I've ever packed into a weekend before. I suppose I could end this post right there and call it good, but honestly, the whole point in me sharing any of this was not to make you "ooh and aah" at my tough weekend, but to show that for every storm there is a rainbow. So, here's the "rainbow" to each of my storms:
1. The truck broke down. First thought: the turbo. Nice! (*Slice through that sarcasm*) I love spending $$$$$ I don't have! (*insert eye roll & more sarcasm*) Initial diagnosis: fuel pump. Bill just went down from thousands to hundreds... Rainbow: Easy fix! Loose wire! Cost? Zero dollars.
2. Ryan somehow got a spotty connection that allowed him enough broken service to get me the message that he needed some help. Without batting an eye, our dear friends ran to the rescue, making the 45 minute drive to help him. However, when they arrived at the scene (well after the sun had set) my boys were alone in the truck & my husband was lost!! I hopped in the truck with two of our other friends - both UPD Sheriffs - and headed their direction. Before we made it, however, we received word that he'd been found! (Clarification: he was lost to us, but he obviously knew where he was). He'd ventured out alone in search of phone service and had not returned. .. Rainbows: We have guardian angels in the form of friends who are genuinely happy to help us. My boys were safe. With the help of some kind passer-byers, Ryan was able to get a ride to clear cell reception and contact a tow-truck. And our friends were able to tow our trailer back to our campsite so we could get the kids settled while Ryan waited for the tow truck.
3. The tow-truck never showed up. One hour passed then another, yet no truck. Around 11 pm our son received a random text from a stranger telling him that "The tow truck hasn't shown. Your dad needs to be picked up." Ry had to leave his new truck "baby" squished on the shoulder of the twisty mountain road overnight. The rainbows?... Beyond the many kind people that stopped to offer help - including the ones who kindly texted our son - our friends stepped in again. By some twist of fate (or not!) some of our friends got a late start to their drive and were within 20 minutes of Ryan's location. We were able to make contact with them right before they got out of cell range and they were able to pick him up. The truck sat vulnerable as can be on that squishy shoulder throughout the night and was perfectly safe. At first light, Ryan and our dear friend towed it out of harms way and down to a shop. Double rainbow: another great friend drove his car trailer down from the Salt Lake area on Sunday night, picked up our truck, towed it back to his house, and had it repaired by Monday afternoon.
4. Saturday afternoon during our 4 wheeler ride, we stopped at a lake to relax. There were 10 vehicles in our group; 19 people total. There was much talk and laughter and even some (unsuccessful) fishing. When the time came to leave, we strapped on our helmets and straddled our machines before I realized that someone was missing. My 17 year old son had ventured away from the group and was LOST! (Yah... just what I needed... Another missing person!) As my daughter and I hiked back to the lake he was nowhere to be seen. I called his name. No response. I called louder. No response. We crested a hill and my eyes swept across the horizon. Nothing but water and weeds. I called again, ready to turn around and head another direction.... Out of the corner of my eye I caught of glimpse of neon green in the tall grass. I called his name again. Out of the grass popped his head, complete with a neon green bandanna. Music piped through his iPod and into his earbuds as he slept in the grass. The rainbow: Somehow, by some miracle, he thought he heard his name through his noise-cancelling earbuds and popped his eyes open just in time to see me waving at him. He shouldn't have been able to hear me through his earphones... but somehow he did. And, who see's a green bandanna in green grass?
5. After a long day of riding, I turned my 4 wheeler over to my 15 year old to drive and, almost immediately, it inexplicably died. We pushed it to the side of the road to look at it and after several attempts, we got it started again. Ryan decided he'd drive it to see if he could figure out what had gone wrong.... His discovery: nothing mechanical, but it was pulling so strongly to the left that he had to fight to keep it on the road. Turns out that both the tires on the left were low... funny how I'd driven all day without a problem and yet they'd become hazardously low the moment I put my less experienced rider at the helm. The rainbow: Had the machine not died when it did, my daughter would have entered the city streets and potentially lost control. If we hadn't stopped and her dad hadn't traded her bikes, things could've ended tragically.
6. As a rule, when we ride, we make frequent stops to wait for the "man behind" so we can keep tabs on each other. My daughter and I had stopped our machine at the bottom of twisty, slate covered, steeeeeep mountain grade to do just that. We were machine #6 of our 9 machine train, my husband and son were #7. It seemed like a lot of time was passing so we turned off our engine to see if we could hear anything. We thought we heard an engine, so we twisted our heads backwards to watch and got ready to ride as soon as they came around the bend. Nothing. Nobody. A few more minutes passed and we thought we heard another engine. Again, nothing. Nobody. At about the same time we were starting to get concerned, my cute young friend ran around the bend. And, for those of you who don't ride, there's nothing that screams "problem" like a person coming around the corner on foot without her bike!.. The announcement: "Your husband crashed!" I don't know how I turned my machine around or how I got it off the path, but somehow I did.... and in record time! I ran around the corner and up the hill in record speed as well. My husband was standing about half way down that steep, twisty ridge. His 4wheeler was face down in a ditch. My 10 year old was no where to be seen. My heart stopped for a moment. It didn't start beating again until I saw his bright yellow jacket and unscathed face smile back at me. The rainbow: First of all, I think its important to clarify that up until about 10 minutes before the accident my daughter had been on the back of my husbands' bike. He'd had the feeling to change riders and, unknowing as to why that change was needed, listened. Miraculously both riders and the bike walked away unscathed. Both the angle at which the bike hit and the fact that neither rider had been launched on impact were miracles. However, the story may not have ended so well had my daughter still been on the back. That extra weight would have surely changed the angle at which the bike hit and almost definitely one, if not both of them would have been thrown into the rock-cliff wall.
7. And, just when you think EVERYTHING that could go wrong has, I've got one more for you!! And, this one's the kicker!!!! (If she made it through #6, now would be a good time for my mother to stop reading!) For the ride home we had to juggle some vehicles to accommodate for Ryan's missing truck. I ended up towing our friends' enclosed toy trailer behind my Expedition. Somewhere between Nephi and Santaquin on a quiet stretch of I-15 I saw a truck with a large trailer in my side-view mirror. He was quickly flying up the passing lane when I turned to my son and said, "He's going to move us." I secured my hold on the wheel and prepared for a push. And, sure enough, it came... more so than I anticipated! He sped by the side of us, first pushing my trailer towards the shoulder of the freeway then sucking it back over to the passing lane. We - meaning my Expedition, the trailer, my 2 boys, our 2 dogs, and myself - "danced" from one shoulder to the other for what seemed like an eternity. The trailer swayed from one side to the other, gyrating my car with it. White knuckles gripped my steering wheel with all the strength I had as I tried to regain control. Monopolizing the whole road, I fought against the momentum pushing, dragging, twisting across the asphalt. My tires left the ground not once, but twice! I prayed more fervently than ever! And so did Ryan and my girls as they watched in horror from their vehicle directly behind us. I remember thinking, "We are going. We are done." Apparently I didn't just think it, I said it out loud.
And, then (excuse me while I wipe the tears from my eyes) something happened. Up to this point I've referred to these moments as rainbows, but this time I'd like to change up the verbiage. Rainbow just doesn't seem to cut it when you're talking about something that was nothing short of divine intervention. I am convinced that there is nothing you can do that could prepare you for the moment your trailer decides to fishtail out of control down the freeway. In all honesty, it was the most horrific thing I've ever experienced... and yet, as time slowed almost to a stop, and my mind seemed not to know what to do, the Spirit whispered softly to me and I followed.
It was not my own knowledge that kept us on the road. It was not my super-awesome driving skills that prevented the car from flipping. I fought with everything I had to get things under control, but my best just didn't seem to be good enough. And, just at the moment that I thought I couldn't fight anymore, a calm swept over me and someone else took over. It was not my doing that got the trailer under control. It was not me that realigned everything and stabilized my car.
You may think of these things as all "coincidence" or just plain "lucky" but I think there's something more to them. Without a doubt, I know that each of these little "rainbows" that I experienced this weekend are in actuality little miracles. They exist around us everywhere. They take place everyday for those who care to notice them. I am grateful for the knowledge that I am a child of a loving God and that He watches over and protects his children. I am thankful that He sends guardian angels - both in the mortal and immortal form - to bless my life. And, I am humbled that He would care enough about me to intervene when things get too hard!