He was just a wee slip of a boy and I was preoccupied at the end of a very long day.
These two factors should have made the odds of us meeting very slim.
But God works in strange ways.
A few months ago, I was driving my son home from a dinner out, tired from a long day of meetings and mental heavy lifting.
I took the side streets home for some reason. The main drag probably would have been faster. It was dusk, the sky darkening quickly.
My son was telling me a story. I was focused on the road ahead. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught movement. It was a tiny slip of a boy.
He was happily trotting down the sidewalk, barely noticeable because of his size and the darkening skies. When I spotted him, there was nothing unusual about him. I should have gone back to watching the road with nary a second thought.
Mommy radar is an amazing thing, though. You don’t mess with it.
A gut feeling made me look twice at this boy, who couldn’t have been more than three years old. I realized he was alone.
I scanned the neighboring yards to no avail. And then he crossed the street—by himself—not looking in either direction before he did so.
I pulled over, knowing no mother would let that happen if she was within 100 feet of her child—heck, a football field of her child. While all I really wanted to do was get home to a bubble bath, I thought of how distraught I would be if this was my son. And I got out of my car.
He continued happily walking.
I asked my son to walk with me so this child would not think I was stranger danger on steroids. He saw us begin to follow him. Baby boy ignored my smiles and entreaties for him to stop, speeding up, crossing yet another street.
We were a comical conga line, weaving back and forth across the street. Tiny speedy child trotting along, my son and I race walking behind him to keep up and gesticulating wildly to cars headed his way.
Still no mother or father in sight.
When I realized he probably did not speak English, I called 911 to report what was happening. The operator asked me to stay with him until a police officer could get to the scene.
Six harrowing intersections later (and a lot of jogging on my part), our man in blue showed up. He was all of about 23 and not exactly the comforting, fatherly type. After sprinting for a block to chase the boy down (man, was that little guy fast), he put him in the police car. No parents could be located, even after an hour. No one was looking for this small child.
I’ll fast forward. Child services was finally able to locate his family who, as I suspected, were refugees living in an apartment building on the main drag. When the Family Services contact called to tell me, she told me it was the second time something like this had happened to the child. With 12 people living in an apartment meant for two, I guess he wasn’t immediately missed.
He had his guardian angels working overtime.
And that cadre of angels knows all too well that mommies fulfill a very similar function here on earth, for our own babies and those of others. When human hands are needed, many times they belong to a mother.
A friend recently commented to me, when discussing all of the crazy things that have happened in my life over the past five years, “Sometimes bad things just happen to good people for no reason.”
It was all I could not to jump out of my seat screaming.
No. I can’t buy that logic.
Yes, sometimes bad things happen—to good people, bad people and everything in between.
But for no reason?
No way, sweetie. Not in my universe.
I don’t pretend to know all of the reasons but I know they’re there.
In the same way that I was there, at the right time and in the right place, to keep this future Usain Bolt (did I mention how VERY fast this little guy was?) from being hit by a car, picked up by a child predator, left alone and cold after dark wandering the streets.
I don’t know if some other Good Samaritan would have stopped had I not. Or had I allowed my preoccupation to so befuddle me that I drove by without even noticing him.
The point is, God whispered in my ear.
And I listened.
Mommy radar, mother’s intuition, whatever you like to call it—is just that.
God whispers. We listen.
And the reasons never really have to be made clear.