Mary stared blankly out her living room window. It was Christmas Eve. Her thoughts were of her husband. He had died a year ago on Christmas day in the wee hours of the morning. It had been snowing then also, she mused as she watched the flakes swirling down to the ground. She and James had been married for forty years. Both retirees had been busy around the house preparing for the arrival of their children and grand children on Christmas day. James had been such a big help. She remembered hearing him hum Christmas carols as he prepared the Christmas feast. He loved cooking.
Later that night while they slept in their bed he grasped her arm and called out her name. She remembered turning on the light and seeing the look of fear in his eyes. His face was ashen. Though she called 911, by time they arrived it was too late. She couldn’t believe it. A festive day had turned into a day of grief for the entire family.
Though each of her children called and urged her to spend the holiday with them, she refused, preferring to be alone with her memories.
Startled by the sound of bending metal and splintering bark Mary was roused from her dream like state. The headlights sent light streaming though the slats of her blinds into the darkened living room. Looking out the window Mary saw a car had slammed into the tree outside her house. Wrapping her sweater tightly around her she ran outside to the wreck. She could see a man inside. He was dazed but obviously alive. Hurrying back to the house she quickly dialed 911. While talking to the operator she saw the man emerge from the car. Running to the door she urged him to come in out of the cold and wait for the arrival of the ambulance in the warmth of the house.
The stranger entered the darkened living room and went straight to her husband’s favorite chair. Flipping on the light switch she stared at the stranger. His thick gray hair had a wave in the front just like James used to have. Looking into her eyes he asked her for warm milk. James used to drink warm milk in the evenings. This stranger somehow reminded her of her dead husband. There was something about his eyes that seemed so familiar. Leaning back in the chair he started to hum, “Away in the Manager.” That had been James’s favorite Christmas carol. Mary asked him his name. In a voice that sounded surprisingly like James’, he told her his name was Anthony. Mary was stunned. Her husband name had actually been Anthony James but he always preferred James. There were so many things about this man that reminded Mary of her husband she almost felt as if he had returned to be with her that evening.
The ambulance never arrived. Mary did not seem to notice. She sat in the chair talking amiably to the stranger as if she had known him for years. The time passed unnoticed.
The phone rang; Mary looked up at the time. It was two o’clock; it was at this time James had died a year ago. With apprehension she picked up the phone. It was Amy, her oldest daughter. Excitedly she told her mom her youngest sister had gone into labor prematurely and delivered a son. She had named him James. She told her mother that the baby looked just like the baby picture she had of their father sitting above the fireplace. She also said that baby James had hazel eyes just like their dad’s even though Trisha and her husband both had blue eyes. And the most important thing is that the baby is doing well despite the early arrival.
Mary had to smile as she thought about the new arrival in their family. She turned to explain the phone call to her visitor but he was gone. She searched the house, thinking maybe he went to the bathroom or went to get a drink of water but she could not find him. Going to the window she looked out though the blinds to see if he had gone out to the car. To her amazement the car was gone. How could he have driven that car she thought to herself? Approaching the site of the accident she noted the tire tracks in the snow were gone. The pieces of wood that had broken of the tree were no longer on the ground. There was no sign that the tree had ever been hit. The only foot prints she saw in the freshly laid snow were her own. Returning to the house she pondered the events of the night. Had God sent her an angel to be with her in her time of trouble? Mary got down on her knees and prayed and thanked God for looking out for her when she needed him most. And she also thanked him for her brand new grandson James.