Earlier this fall, I had a speaking engagement in Louisville, Kentucky. I rented a car in Nashville because from Louisville, I was flying directly to a speaking engagement. I had no set time I needed to be in Kentucky on that Friday, so planned to take my time getting there. That all changed when, in the mid-afternoon, my friend Anne called me and asked if I would like to go to a meet and greet with Reese Witherspoon, and then see her speak afterward. Of course I said yes. However, there was one catch. I basically had to leave Nashville immediately and would still barely make it in time.
So instead of driving leisurely, I drove like a woman on a mission, and by that I mean, I drove over the speed limit for the first two hours of my trip. About two hours into the drive, it started to rain.
And not just a little rain. Heavy, heavy rain, making it very difficult to see.
I slowed up, but not as much as I should have. This rain was not going to make me miss Reese. Looking back, I realize this was stupid, but it is the truth.
And then, I lost control.
My rental car fishtailed back and forth across four lanes of traffic on the highway. I gripped the steering wheel and tried to regain control.
Other cars were also on the highway, but miraculously, not one hit me. My car never did a 360 and somehow, I managed not to hit anyone. I ended up on the shoulder, shaking uncontrollably.
As the gravity of what happened came over me, I started to sob. I could have easily been killed or killed someone. And while tears ran down my face and the rain pounded on my car, I realized I was not alone.
Behind me, another car had pulled up. It was just a regular car, with I think, one person in it. I believe that the car saw what happened and wanted to make sure I was okay. It was raining so terribly, neither of us got out.
As I sat in my car, shaking and crying, that car sat there with me.
That car remained there for about 5 minutes before pulling out back onto the road. I couldn’t see if the driver was a man or woman, or even wave in some way to show my thanks.
It was one of the scariest moments of my life and that person helped me to not feel alone. They let me know that they were there if they needed me. They offered comfort in the most basic of ways, just by their presence.
They took something awful and made it beautiful.
I share this as a reminder that sometimes people just need our presence. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend. Ask if you can come over and just be with them. Maybe you fold a load of laundry together, maybe you just sit. Or maybe you offer your presence to someone you don’t know. Volunteer this holiday season. Sit with someone who is alone at church.
There is nothing like the presence of another person. To that good samaritan who pulled over on the highway, somewhere between Tennessee and Kentucky, thank you.
And to the rest of us, may we be more like them.
(**For those who are wondering, I made it to Reese.)