My Angel Experience

My alarm rang at 8 a.m. I was tired. I had been up all night at the hospital delivering a baby. I got back to my student apartment at 5 a.m., exhausted. I was in my third year of medical school at the University of Washington, and I chose to do my six- week Obstetrics and Gynecology rotation in Boise, Idaho. At this smaller away-from- Seattle site, I would get lots of great experience. This was supposed to be a really exciting and fulfilling time, but it seemed most days I was just too tired to appreciate it.

As I fell into bed at 5 a.m., I thought about shutting off the alarm so that I might get more than a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. But if I did that, I would miss my karate class. The karate group was the other main reason I chose to do obstetrics in Boise. I had the opportunity to train with Renshi Rick Boyes, one of my favorite karate teachers. So I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed.

I pulled on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and grabbed my gi (the standard karate uniform). I jammed a piece of toast and a banana into my mouth and jumped in my little yellow Volkswagen Super Beetle. It was less than a ten-minute drive from the apartment by St. Luke’s Hospital to the dojo, which was on 13th Street.

As I drove down Idaho Street, the heaviness of exhaustion coursed through my whole body and I wondered why I was doing this. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to get a few more hours of sleep? I pushed these thoughts out of my mind. Just stop that negative thinking right now, I told myself. The discipline and exercise is good for you. And you always feel better after a good workout.

My little pep talk behind me, I focused on driving. I was going 25 mph. Every light turned green as I approached. I would make it to class on time and not have to endure the “look” from my karate teacher.

A quiet voice in my head said, “Slow down.”

Huh? Why? I checked my speed: 25 mph, the perfect speed for hitting each light just as it turned green. As I approached 8th Street the light turned green! I sailed through the intersection.

The voice said again, “JOLENE, slow down.” Huh? I checked my speed again. “JOLENE, SLOW DOWN, SLOW DOWN!!!” The urgency and loudness in the voice really startled me this time, and I almost involuntarily stepped on the brake. I didn’t stop, but I slowed enough so that the light at 9th Street turned green several seconds before I got there. I was not yet to the crosswalk when a large green pickup barreled into the intersection from the right, traveling at least 50 mph.

OMG! Disbelief and shock flowed through me. I pulled over to the side of the road, my whole body shaking. I sat there for a few minutes breathing as the realization sank in.

That pickup ran a red light! I would have been smack in the middle of that intersection! My little Volkswagen Bug and I would have been smashed if I had not listened to that voice. If I had not slowed down. I had narrowly escaped death!

While I waited for my heart to stop pounding before I proceeded to karate class, I

thought about the voice that had warned me to slow down. Until that day, I had never thought much about guardian angels. Now, I was convinced that I had one.


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Jolene Starr

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Jolene is a retired physician whose memoir Buen Viaje: A Physician’s Journey to Healing and Wholeness was published last month.…

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