I always liked that name for God.
Anyway, here’s a story. I have a good forty-five minute, 20 mile plus drive from my house to my college. Today where I lived it started pouring right before I went home. All right. Go slower on the turns.
Ah, blessed ignorance of what was to come. After about five or ten minutes of driving my windows got fogged up. All right. Windshield wipers to full.
Problem: They didn’t work. Like, at all. They did absolutely nothing. And here I was, stuck about 35 to 40 minutes from my house, two major highways away from home.
Well, what was I to do? I stopped briefly for coffee and gaswhile I still had enough vision to see the Dunkin Donuts, got back into my car, and began the most terrifying ride of my life.
Far from improving, the fog on my windshield – front and back – got progressively worse as the ride went on, and my windshield wipers had absolutely no effect on it.
I’m a generally twitchy, nervous person generally, and on this drive I was a terrified bundle of nerve and adrenaline. After heading down the mountain I need to drive down to get to the highway (in the pouring rain and barely able to see), I panicked and turned too early, heading off onto a street I’ve never been on in the nearby town. Now I needed to find a way to turn around despite having severely impaired vision and having no clue where to turn.
At this point I still had enough vision to be able to turn into the parking lot of a nearby building (oh yes, it got much, much worse) and while there I found an opening to quickly drive into the lane heading back, all the while with the fog on my windshield steadily building. Somehow – and I’m still not sure how – I managed to make the correct turn and blunder my way onto the first highway I needed to get home. Excellent.
To get onto the second highway I needed to stay in the right lane, and then once I made a turn around the exit I had to quickly merge into the left lane, then merge again onto the highway proper. Due to the rain traffic was slow and crowded, and by this point I was pretty close to peak blindness.
Somehow – and, again, I have no clue how – I managed to make both merges without crashing into anyone or going down the wrong road (and I got VERY close to both – keep in mind I could barely see the cars in the lane I was merging into, and at one point it was pure dumb luck I didn’t hit anybody).
So I’m on the highway, and it finally hits: Almost total blindness. I could. Not. See. The. road. I couldn’t see behind me – my rear windshield was too fogged. I couldn’t see where I could merge – my side view mirrors were too fogged. It was truly a nightmare scenario.
I managed to essentially grope my way down the highway by following the direction of the lights from the car in front of me and by squinting ti barely see the white lines on the side of the road. The entire times I was very much aware that I was swerving like crazy and must have looked like a maniac. At more than one point the car I followed went down an exit I wasn’t taking and I was forced to navigate my way by squinting and moving to the right whenever a car to the side of me – looking like a blur – got too close.
When I got to the bridge to enter into my state the road considerably narrowed, with a wall on my side and cars immediately to my left. I have absolutely no clue, once again, how I didn’t crash.
My original plan once I got back into my state was to pull into a parking lot and wipe the fog off my windows, but by then it was so bad I was actually terrified of turning. At this point I hit a curb, but luckily not far enough to go up the curve and not high enough to cause serious damage. Later when I checked my car out I found a crack, presumably caused by the minor crash. Nevertheless, I forged on.
At one point I assume I must have drifted dangerously far to the left, because somebody blared his horn at me. At least, I think it was me; since I couldn’t see the car I honestly am not actually sure.
I had work in the afternoon, and my original plan was to stop home, eat something, and then head into my job and buy some clothes before going into work, my normal outfit having ripped. Well, that plan was out, as my forty-five minute drive took something along the lines of an hour and forty minutes.
Frighteningly, I had to get into the left lane in order to turn into the store I worked for. And once again, I have absolutely no idea how I managed to merge into the left lane, make the turn, merge into the right lane, and turn again into the store. That I didn’t hit anybody is a genuine miracle. When I reached the parking lot instead of driving to the other end of the store, closer to the area I worked, I parked in the nearest parking spot I could see (by squinting and spotting barely visible white lines). That I managed to fit properly into the spot I still don’t fully understand.
That was, without a doubt, the most terrifying and most dangerous thing that I have done. I essentially stumbled out of my car and took several gasping breaths, and for the rest of the day whenever I thought of the incident I had to engage in deep breathing to keep myself from having a minor panic attack.
I can only attribute my survival – and I am quite serious about this – to a miracle. There is absolutely no reason for me to be alive right now. I was basically driving with almost total blindness, down mountains, multiple highways, around turns, and in towns I had never been in before. Quite simply, I should have crashed. Several times the fact that I didn’t hit anybody was pure coincidence that nobody happened to be next to me when I merged into the lane I needed to be in.
Saint Paul said the prayers of the righteous are the most effective. I can only assume that some kind, righteous souls were praying for all who traveled that day, because the hand of Providence is the only way for me to make sense of my survival of this strip. I must say a thank you to Saint Raphael, and make my way to Confession soon as well.
Death did a good job trying to trake me today, but God stopped him. Hug your loved ones and pray to God, because the line between life and death is far thinner than it sometimes appears.
From a sudden and unprepared death, spare me O Lord.
And thank you, Saint Raphael.