Angel in the river

My younger sister and I were on a summer vacation with our aunt and uncle. At the time I was still a non-swimmer, and naïve to the dangers of the river. As my uncle and aunt relaxed on the beach with my sister and cousin, I could hardly wait to jump in the cool water. They cautioned me to stay close to shore.

I didn't have flotation devices, and I was unaware that I was slowly creeping away from the beach. All of a sudden I couldn't touch the sandy bottom with my feet. How did I get to the middle of the river? Afraid of getting in trouble for disobeying the rule, and jeopardizing any future camping trips if I survived, I didn't yell out for help. Sounds silly, but I was only seven, and cursed with being too shy.

Within seconds I had already gone under twice, gasping, and running out of air. The far off voices of others in the water and on the beach were now muffled. Just as I was going down a third time, out of nowhere appeared a handsome smiling man with blond hair. He was within inches of me and had hauntingly beautiful blue eyes. Neither of us spoke a word. With his index finger to his lips, I knew he was assuring me this was our secret about me drowning. Strange as that sounds, I was relieved no one would know. In my mind I distinctly heard, "Everything will be okay." No one was near us, and the man never reached out to touch me.

Within a flash I was back at the shore! The moment my feet touched the sand, I could clearly hear the voices of everyone in the distance. My uncle and aunt were still at the same spot on the beach, unaware of the near-tragedy that just transpired. I quickly glanced back at the river, searching for the blue-eyed stranger. He was gone! I couldn't comprehend what had happened. Only a few seconds had passed, and I was no longer in the middle of the river drowning. How could I be back safely on shore without feeling myself move, and why did the mysterious man vanish? I wanted to say thank you.

I kept my secret for forty years before I figured out the blue-eyed man was my guardian angel. I was almost fifty when I finally shared my river experience with Mom. She was naturally upset that I hadn't yelled out for help, and amazed I could keep this secret for so many years.

As a child I had no way of understanding what happened at the river. Over the years though, I've experienced many other close calls, some even life-threatening, with outcomes that didn't always make sense. I knew I wasn't alone. God always sent my angel in the nick of time. He never appeared again as he did in the river, but I felt his presence and heard the voice in my head, "Everything will be okay."

My favorite childhood prayer, long before I met my angel at the river, was to my guardian angel. Even now, as a grandmother, I always end my prayer time with "Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here. Ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen."