At nine o’clock at night, fifteen miles outside of Buffalo, Wyoming, our little 1983 Honda Civic succumbed to the cold, and the little engine simply couldn’t. We had been losing oil for an hour, and it was only a matter of time before we were stranded.
Someone stopped to help, but the 15-degree-below-zero cold killed his car, too.
This was the day before cell phones (much less smart phones) and emergency roadside service was only as close as the nearest rest stop pay phone. Within 30 minutes or so, a shiny white Cadillac slowed and cautiously evaluated our situation. My dad rolled down his window, explaining to the elderly couple in the Cadillac that we, a family of four with two grade-school boys, were stranded. They quickly invited us to join them–they were headed home to Buffalo and would drop us off at our destination. It turned out the couple claimed to know my aunt and uncle, and my dad enjoyed the opportunity to yuck it up with his hometown folk.
The car was plush and warm, and my fears of freezing to death before reaching junior high quickly melted. The couple kindly dropped us off, unloaded our suitcases, and drove away. We burst into my aunt and uncle’s house with our story of an exploding engine, the arctic rescue, and our sheer exhaustion. My brother and I were shuffled off to bed, and I fell asleep listening to the adults talk about the people who picked us up. My uncle recognized the names, and, from what I could decipher in my eaves-dropping dreariness, the woman in the Cadillac had died several years earlier, and the old man was currently wasting away in a nursing home.
The pragmatist may accuse me of mishearing or misunderstanding. The conversation was probably about someone else, as everybody was trying to label the connection between our family and the couple that stopped for us. Miracles don’t happen. Angels aren’t believable, because they are neither practical nor logical.
They’re surprising. Alarming. Unsettling. Captivating.
To this day, I don’t know if I was riding into a small Wyoming town on the wings of angels. But it’s not really important that I know, because there is mystery in the unknown, and there is beauty in mystery. A wisp of wings, if you will.
Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In March we’re exploring the theme Angels.