I got the call on a cool Sabbath morning as I was walking to church. They had already started the song service. I was running late. My wife had taken our only car out early that morning, starting a five-hour trip to pick her brother up from college for his Thanksgiving break. I was about halfway to the church when my phone began to vibrate. I saw her name on the screen, and I answered.
Before I could say, “Hey, I’m about to head into church,” I knew something was wrong. The voice on the other line was not my wife’s. “Hello, is this Kaleb? I’m here with your wife. She’s been in a serious accident, and she’s pretty shaken up. I’m going to stay here with her while we get things sorted out.” My stomach dropped inside me. My legs were already moving. I ran the rest of the way to church, where my mom was in the middle of singing the opening songs for the sabbath service with the praise team. I threw open the church doors and right there in the center aisle, bawling my eyes out I yelled, “Mom, we have to go! We have to go right now!”
In seconds she had grabbed her keys and we were in the car. “Where are we going?” she asked. Through my disoriented responses and sporadic texts with the woman I’d talked to and, eventually, communicating with my wife, we started to make sense of where we were headed.
I have never in my life felt the relief I felt when, after hours of driving toward a hospital I’d never heard of in a state I’d never lived in, I saw my wife again. She was shaken, but she was standing. Our car had been in a multi-car pileup accident and totaled beyond repair. We never even saw it again. But as stressful as that was, the relief that she had made it through––that we had more time together and that she walked away from that horrifying scene uninjured––is what has stayed with me ever since.
It has been four years since that Thanksgiving accident. And every year since I have been reminded just how close we came to losing my closest friend on this earth. I don’t believe God makes bad things happen–but I’ve seen so many times how He can work powerfully in spite of them. As I reflect this year on the things, I’m thankful for, that’s near the top of my list. Somehow, in all the mess of that situation, my wife was safe. Somehow there was a woman––a stranger––there with her that helped make sure she was okay. Somehow, even without a car to drive, I had a mom who was ready to spring into action immediately to help her kids.
We shouldn’t need Thanksgiving to show gratitude, but sometimes having a reminder is good for us. So, as I spend time with my loved ones this holiday season, I think that’s what I’m going to spend the most time thinking about: how grateful I am to still have each of them with me.