“The guardian angels of life fly so high as to be beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us.” ~Jean Paul Richter
*NB – The names have been changed to protect the identities of the family involved in the following post but I have permission to share their story.
On the morning of December 29 my husband and I went down to Byron Bay for an early swim and coffee in a favourite cafe. The power was out from a storm the night before, and I’d cancelled a day of work. We had just said goodbye to the last of our Christmas guests and were looking forward to a day on our own. We felt relaxed and happy. The surf was gentle, we bumped into friends and shared laughter and news, and we wound our way home through the hills singing along to the radio.
But as I sat under a tree in the back yard I began to feel uncomfortable. Something was wrong, although there was nothing I could think of to make me feel that way.
Out of the blue I thought of Mandy, a student of mine I have not seen for years. The last I’d heard of her she had two small boys. The skin of my arms was covered in goosebumps, and I felt sweaty and anxious. Something was not right with her husband. Something was not right about her kids. I couldn’t put my finger on it, I couldn’t get a clear picture. I just knew I had to call her.
I ripped through my database until I found her details. The landline was disconnected, but finally I found a cell phone number for her. She picked it up on the third ring.
Of course she was surprised to hear from me, and I made it all the more awkward by blurting out, “How’s Wayne?”
“Oh,” she paused for a moment, a catch in her voice, “we separated just before Christmas. I’ve moved back home with Mum and Dad til we work things out. Wayne’s changed so much in the past six months, Nic. So depressed and unmotivated, when life is going well for us finally. I don’t get it! He just isn’t who I married any more. I still love him but I didn’t know what else to do…”
“Is Wayne with you right now?” I asked her.
“No, he picked up the boys for a sleepover early this morning. Why?”
Why? I didn’t know why. All I knew was something wasn’t right.
Before I could say anything, Mandy continued. “He’s got a place just around the corner.”
“Go. Get your Dad and go there now. Call me when you get there!”
“Why? Is something wrong?” I heard the panic in her voice.
“I don’t know. I hope not. Just hurry.”
She hung up and I sat in my backyard with a desperate anxiety. It took three hours before she called me back.
They’d found her husband and three small boys in the family car, the engine running in the enclosed garage, semi-conscious from exhaust fumes. Ambulances took them to hospital. Their two older sons stayed in overnight, their toddler a few nights longer, and her husband is still there.
By some kind of miracle, a tragedy was averted.
Mandy called me again today, and we had a long talk. Two things emerged.
Firstly, one of her sons, Blake, who is five, told her roughly what had happened. Daddy had put them all in the car and said they were going on a trip. But Daddy wouldn’t stop crying. Blake hadn’t known what to do, but then he remembered his mum telling him that he could always talk to his Guardian Angel. So Blake said to his Angel, “Please help Daddy. Please stop Daddy crying. Please help us find out what is making Daddy so sad.”
Blake fell asleep, and he had nice dreams about a kind lady.
Secondly, as part of a routine set of tests, it was discovered that Wayne had a serious thyroid problem. Serious enough to have created the mood swings, fatigue and depression that had led to him growing away from Mandy. Serious enough that he’d gotten to a place where he felt life was hopeless.
He’s getting the medical help he needs. Doctors are convinced that it is the thyroid issue that created this sudden change in Wayne’s personality. And the family is going to get counselling.
Wayne and Mandy wanted to share their story. They wanted to reach out to others suffering from depression and ask them to seek help. Speak with your family doctor. Get a health check-up, including a thyroid work-up. And reach out to loved ones, friends or a help line and let them know you’re struggling. There is help out there. You don’t have to battle this alone.
And as for Blake, I am sure that his childlike faith and certainty helped change the outcome for him and his family. How can I not believe in Angels?