It was May 13, the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, and my husband called me to ask for prayers. While I was home with a sick toddler, he was attending a family event with our other three children. He had started to feel a bit queasy, so he was coming home early in case it got worse.
I prayed a Rosary and placed my family in the hands of Our Lady of Fatima.
If my husband had known what was about to happen, he would never have tried to drive home. But he still felt well enough to drive, so he and the children got on the road.
Sickness was indeed hitting him, harder and faster than ever before in his life. He never could have imagined it could get so bad, so fast. He didn’t have time to pull over. He turned onto a highway ramp, and suddenly the world started to go dark.
“I can’t see,” he told our daughter, who was sitting beside him in the front seat.
He had never fainted from sickness before, but now he was blacking out. The car swerved and hit the guard rails on both sides. Somehow, my husband managed to put on the brakes, and the car came to a stop.
In hindsight, he now says that it could have been angels who stopped the car. Surely, there were angels surrounding them that night. The car could easily have careened over the sides of the elevated ramp and down the steep embankment. It was nothing short of a miracle that neither the passengers nor the car ended up with a single scratch.
Our Lady of Fatima was showering them with graces on her feast day, and she wasn’t done yet.
A car pulled up beside them almost immediately. A young woman rolled down her window.
“Is everyone all right?” she asked. “I’m a nurse at the local hospital, and I just finished my shift.”
Our daughter explained the situation—my husband was awake but disoriented—and the nurse parked her car, walked back to my family, and called an ambulance. Meanwhile, my husband and one of the children, who had also come down suddenly with the virus in the car, began vomiting.
The nurse had already done a good deed by stopping and calling the ambulance. She didn’t have to do more. She had just finished what was probably a long and difficult shift taking care of patients at the hospital, and could have gone home to put her feet up for a well-deserved rest. Everyone would have understood if she’d wanted to go back to her car and keep her distance from this terrible sickness.
She did go back to her car—but she didn’t stay there. She gathered supplies, and returned to my family with her arms full of towels.
Then, she opened the car doors and began to care for these strangers on the side of the road. She wiped the vomit from my husband’s and son’s clothes, hair, and faces until the ambulance came. Only when she saw that they were in good hands with the EMTs did she finally leave.
Thanks be to God, no one needed to go in the ambulance. My husband’s brother came to the rescue and drove everyone safely home.
We don’t know who that nurse was, but I will not forget her incredible kindness to my family.
She was a Good Samaritan on the highway.
Jesus tells the story in the Gospel: “A Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where [the beaten man] was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds.” (Luke 10:33-34)
Likewise, this nurse, as she journeyed, came to where my husband and children were; and when she saw them, she had compassion, and went to them and bound up their wounds. In doing so, she reflected the mercy of God. I pray she will receive eternal mercy in return.
I also pray that the next time I am faced with the choice to pass someone by, or to stop and help, that I will have the courage to do as this nurse did, and choose mercy.
Our children still talk about that night. The last time they did, one of them remembered that before they had begun driving, he had “prayed a little prayer” for safe travels.
Then he talked about the “angel” who pulled up in the car from behind them.
“Oops,” he said, smiling. “I meant to say nurse—but angel came out.”
To our family, she was both.
On the anniversary of the day Our Lady of Fatima appeared to three shepherd children, she reached out her hand to protect and bless three more children—and their father. She sent angels to surround them, and a Good Samaritan straight out of Scripture to remind us that God’s mercy never fails.
Not every journey will be easy, but when we are wrapped in the folds of Mary’s mantle, life is a highway on which we are never alone.