The Unexpected Stranger

It’s late. She’s driving. She’s on her way home. There’s something in the road. She hits it. She swerves. She loses control of the car.

A loud crash. A bounce. She’s going downhill. She’s rolling. Her car is really rolling.

She screams.

And in this moment, she’s thinking, “I wish I could tell my children I love them.”

Funny. In critical moments, nobody says to themselves: “I wish I had better retirement options.”

She’s tumbling down an embankment toward an icy river, thinking simple things.

Like the day she slid a ring onto her husband’s finger and promised to love him until death.

She thinks about holding her newborn daughter. The same daughter who was born with an extra digit on her left hand. A “supernumerary finger” doctors called it.

She thinks about how she nicknamed her daugher “Six.” And how the name stuck, even after surgeons removed the appendage.

She remembers her son. And Little League games. And the day after school, when he told her that he’d found hair in his armpits.

One second. That’s all it takes. One second to relive her entire life.

How strange. Only a few minutes ago, her life felt permanent. And now, it’s too short.

Her car hits water. She is upside down, dangling. Blood in her eyes. She is too beat-up to even cry. She is falling in and out of sleep.

The water is above her head. Then it’s touching her hair. Then her forehead. Then her eyebrows. Her nose.

In her stupor she manages to say one word before she’s submerged. A three-letter name which, despite what many claim, has nothing to do with politics, wars, or religion.

She swallows a lot of water. The world goes black.


Sharp sickness in her gut. It is overwhelming. A burning in her lungs. A headache which feels like she’s had an argument with a hammer.

“I’m alive,” she’s thinking.

Her eyes open. She coughs up foul-tasting river water.

She sees him. He is big. Black. Broad shoulders, thick hands. He is using his palms to press on her sternum.

“Stay with me,” he’s shouting.

She trusts him. There is something about his face. She wants to fall asleep, but he won’t let her.

“Stay with me!” he says.

The next thing she knows, she’s over his shoulder. She can see his feet. He isn’t wearing any shoes—she remembers this. Barefoot.

He carries her uphill. She catches a glimpse of her crumbled vehicle, sinking into the river. She can hardly believe it.

He places her on the pavement, leans her against a guardrail.

“Don’t close your eyes,” he says. “Stay with me.”

She sees blue lights, flashing. He tells her it’s going to be okay. He touches her face.

She remembers a lot from that night. She remembers the EMTs. She remembers a bumpy ambulance ride. She even remembers the anesthesia before surgery.

She remembers asking emergency workers about the man who saved her.

“Man?” one deputy answered. “It was MY patrol car that found you, ma’am. We found you all alone.”

“No,” she insisted. “There was a man who… Who saved me.”

The deputies only looked at each other. “No ma’am,” they said. “We didn’t see any cars around that area but yours.”

I know sometimes you think you’re alone in this world.

You’re not.


  1. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - January 2, 2020 6:29 am

    There are angels among us. Thank God for this lady who needed the help from the one who saved her.

  2. Dawn A Bratcher - January 2, 2020 7:38 am


  3. Jim Lyle - January 2, 2020 8:06 am

    God is with us at all times. Amen

  4. Sharon Lawson - January 2, 2020 9:45 am

    Wow!! What a wonderful story!!!

  5. Christine - January 2, 2020 10:12 am


  6. Jimmy Stewart - January 2, 2020 10:43 am

    Thank you Sean!!! Happy New Year!!! What a beautiful reminder of the one who saves!!!

  7. carolyn - January 2, 2020 11:03 am

    Perfect start to 2020-GOD BLESS

  8. Sharon Brock - January 2, 2020 12:34 pm

    What a wonderful way to start 2020. Thank you Sean. I have had too many miracles in my life to not believe in GOD.

  9. Amanda - January 2, 2020 1:32 pm

    Thank you

  10. Liz Watkins - January 2, 2020 1:42 pm

    WOW!! Just WOW! God never leaves us Alone!
    Happy New Year, Sean❤️🎊🎊🎊❤️

  11. Kevin Rollins - January 2, 2020 1:46 pm

    Amen and Amen

  12. Jan - January 2, 2020 1:51 pm

    Love this! Thank you for this awesome testimony!!!

  13. Marilyn - January 2, 2020 2:14 pm

    There are angels and I have felt them watching out for me in my life. They were there when a car came out of nowhere and we missed one another by inches. They were there when that man walked in front of my vehicle when I was turning right, but somehow I missed hitting him. Oh yes, I believe in angels, and am thankful for earthly ones and heavenly ones. Keep writing your blog and blessing those of us who read it.

  14. Shelton A. - January 2, 2020 2:16 pm

    I, for one, believe her; every thing she said was true. Thanks so much for sharing that story…it really fits the season.

  15. aleathia nicholson - January 2, 2020 2:27 pm

    In an old movie….real old!…St. Louis Blues, Fats Waller plays the piano and looks sideways saying: “One never knows, do one?” I guess that’s how she felt……

  16. Jess - January 2, 2020 2:42 pm

    That was one of your very best columns…and they’re all good, but that was special. God is with us, and we shouldn’t ever forget that.

  17. Norman Purdue - January 2, 2020 3:06 pm

    My wife and I took our 16 year old daughter to New York for her birthday. After doing all the tourists things I wanted to see if I could find a knock out Rolex watch. A friend had told me the best place to find one and how to get there. “Take a certain subway train to this area” he said.

    We found the correct train got on and for some reason the door did not shut. A little old lady sitting next to the door looked up at me and said, “You do not want to be on this train”.

    I do not ask “Why?” I grabbed my wife and daughters hand stepped off the train, the door shut immediately and left.

    My belief is that old lady was an angel God sent at the right moment to save us from some unknown danger ahead.

  18. Ala Red Clay Girl - January 2, 2020 3:27 pm

    No, we are never alone; our guardian angels sent from God are with us always. I have heard and read too many stories similar to this one to believe otherwise.

  19. Cathi Russell - January 2, 2020 3:35 pm

    I love this column so much. And yes, there are guardian angels with us every minute of every day.

  20. Courtney Roberts - January 2, 2020 3:51 pm

    It gets lonesome sometimes—what a wonderful reminder—i find much solace in your story, thank you 🙂

  21. Lita - January 2, 2020 4:13 pm

    Thank you, Sean.

  22. Linda Moon - January 2, 2020 4:18 pm

    Wow. No One Is Alone…..beautiful lyrics from a song I love, and beautiful words from you today, Sean. Retirement options are wise and practical but hopefully no one thinks of them in moments when we’re forced to think about the brevity of life. I hope that three-letter-name will be my last word before I’m submerged into blackness…..before the One Man stays with me until there’s light. But until then, your words often help us readers to feel not so alone in this world!

  23. Edna Barron - January 2, 2020 4:37 pm

    I absolutely believe that there are angels watching over so many of us. I’m so glad this woman’s angel was with her. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  24. James Thornton - January 2, 2020 4:42 pm

    I think this was one of your better ones, and I’ve read every one you’ve written since I started following you. Had me tearing there at the end.

  25. Jane Buttram - January 2, 2020 7:29 pm

    My husband and I were T-boned by a distracted (texting) driver in July, 2018. We did a 360, went airborne & landed on the top of another car. There were 3 angels on the scene: an off-duty EMS guy right behind us who jumped out and started cutting me out of the car; 2 coeds, unhurt who immediately called 911 and a police car that caught the whole thing on dashcam. The woman driving the car wasn’t injured. I had a broken neck/ my husband a 12” tear in his diaphragm. Today we are healed with no deficiencies.
    Thanks Be To God and your essay today. Do I believe in angels. You betcha

  26. Bibi - January 2, 2020 7:41 pm

    Ugly tears flying down my face as i read this. You remind us all of the truly important things in life. Thank you for that. You reach so many every single day. I have a guardian angel story as well. Yes, they are definitely real. Yes, they definitely are sent to protect us. He (God) loves us so much.

  27. Janice, Silverhill - January 2, 2020 10:32 pm

    Angels among us! I believe!!

  28. Nora Lawson - January 2, 2020 10:36 pm

    Beautiful. A great read to begin the new year and strengthen our faith.

  29. Betty - January 2, 2020 10:42 pm

    I can’t tell you how many times my guardian angel has saved me. I’m hoping he/she gets hazard pay.

  30. Berryman Mary M - January 2, 2020 11:20 pm

    I believe there are angels among us.

  31. Edith Clark - January 3, 2020 12:02 am

    Wow! What a story.

  32. lfry1220 - January 3, 2020 2:34 am

    Sean, you are special. Thank you.

  33. Ann - January 3, 2020 3:15 am

    Chilling…and beautiful, thank you

  34. turtlekid - January 3, 2020 12:40 pm

    I believe.

  35. Gwen@ Monroe - January 3, 2020 2:45 pm

    I don’t even know why I’m trying to comment. Can’t see for tears. I wish I could describe my feelings but don’t you ever stop writing Sean. Such a blessing and delight rolled into one.

  36. Fred Borders - January 3, 2020 6:06 pm

    This is the best of your columns I have read yet Sean. Great Job!

  37. Jody - January 3, 2020 9:17 pm

    Powerful message. Thanks

  38. Edy - January 4, 2020 12:54 am


  39. Susan Gleadow - January 5, 2020 2:10 am

    Oh my goodness Sean, I am having huge goosebumps, thank you!

  40. 1010parkplace - January 6, 2020 7:16 pm

    Hi Sean, I just found your blog and have subscribed after reading this piece and the reply to the would be writer in Albuquerque. I write a blog as well and did a post about “The Angel and the Rolling Stones” a couple of years ago. Because of the circumstances there’s no doubt in my mind he was a real angel, and I was humbled by the experience. Brenda

  41. Carol - January 11, 2020 7:40 pm

    😇 Amen 🙏 I believe !
    Love ya!

  42. - February 7, 2020 2:36 am

    You had this same black angel save you a long time ago. I recall your article, because he knew your name without you even speaking. ❤️🌈✝️🛐

  43. Martha Martin Black - February 7, 2020 2:20 pm

    All I can say would be worthless. I am rejoicing in and among my tears. Thank you Jesus and thank you Sean for the reminder that we are not left alone.

  44. Martha Martin Black - February 7, 2020 2:39 pm

    There is nothing I could say as I sit here among my tears, except, thank you Jesus & thank you Sean.

  45. Mary Hicks - February 8, 2020 9:16 pm

    God works in mysterious ways. God is good all the time. Thanks again Sean. God bless you and Jamie.

  46. southernshanna - August 26, 2023 2:43 pm

    You inspire many!


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