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Driving Without a License

by as told to Esther Lipscomb

You have to help me, God! I begged silently as I helped my Dad recover from a seizure.

     “Are you OK, Dad?

    He didn’t say anything. His face looked white, and his shoulders were tense as he hunched over the steering wheel. It was as if he’d instantly aged. My heart skipped a beat. I knew what was coming next, and it  terrified me.
Suddenly Dad’s body went completely stiff, and he began biting his lips and tongue. A seizure!
    In a hiss of gravel we slipped off the side of the road. I clutched at the dashboard and imagined our broken bodies scattered down the mountain.
Somehow Dad slowed down enough to bring the car to a bumpy stop. From our high perch I could see the hazy outline of the Blue Ridge mountains in the distance, and the road slipping off into what looked like eternity. The only sound was our breathing. Dad slumped in his seat, his eyes already looked heavy.
    “You have to stay with me, Dad!”
    I tried shaking him. After his seizures he slept, it was nearly impossible not to. His recovery wasn’t quick, either. I knew it could be hours before he felt well enough to drive again.
    God, help us! I prayed silently, trying to think about what we should do.
I scanned the area again, hoping I’d missed something, hoping for some sort of miracle. There were no cars in sight or homes or buildings—nothing but a panoramic view on one side of the road, steep, wooded mountains on the other, and twisting pavement in front of us.
    “Should I drive, Dad?”
    “Yeah,” he mumbled.
    My stomach somersaulted. The only driving I’d done was in the cemetery near Mom’s house. Slow circles among headstones hardly qualified me for driving down a mountain! Never mind that I didn’t even have a license.
    “You’ll have to help me, Dad,” I said. You have to help me, God! I begged.
    Dad nodded.
    “Well, we have to trade seats,” I pointed out.
    I slid into the driver’s seat and pulled it forward. Gas and brakes, gas and brakes, I breathed to myself, passing my foot lightly from one to the other.
I turned the key in the ignition and the van purred to life.
    “Turn on the flashers,” Dad said in a weak voice.
    He still isn’t really with me, but God is, I thought.
    I looked behind me again and again before slowly pulling onto the road. I gave the car a little gas, and we lurched forward. I pressed down a bit more and felt our ride smooth out. We began picking up speed. Then the road slithered into a sharp curve ahead of me.
    “What do I do?” All my good sense had suddenly disappeared.
    “Step on the brake!” Dad’s eyes were wide and frightened.
    Somehow I managed to brake without jarring us too severely. Fear fluttered around in my throat. I knew I was an amateur at best—at worst, an accident waiting to happen. I scanned the rearview mirror for flashing blue lights. I almost would’ve welcomed them.
    Instead I saw a car coming up quickly on my bumper. I gripped the steering wheel as if it were my salvation, and I stuck to my granny-like pace. A long line of cars formed behind me. Sorry, folks, I thought, but I’m not going any faster!
    As time went on, I started feeling less afraid, almost peaceful. I felt as if I were doing the right thing, and it began feeling almost natural. I increased my speed a bit and turned off the flashers. I drove for an hour and a half until we were nearly back to my school and to Dad’s apartment.
    As we came into town, adrenaline pumped through my veins. I felt as if I’d run a race and won! Then I made a turn and skidded. My ego deflated faster than a pin-pricked balloon. I couldn’t really drive. “God, help me,” I cried.
    Once again our ride smoothed out, and I crept the last mile back to my dad’s apartment. With a grateful, still-pounding heart, I turned off the ignition.
    Once I got Dad settled inside his apartment, I called the mother of a friend to come and pick me up and take me back to school. I’d had enough driving to last me for a long time, and I’d had an amazing experience with God. As I’d driven down that mountain, I’d felt God work through my body, and I absolutely knew He was doing it. Not many people get such an exciting and spiritual driver’s ed class!
    I will always be thankful that God cared for us so well, and that He was so real to me that day. I’ll remember, too, that it’s not my ability that keeps me going, it’s His grace.
    Esther Lipscomb is a freelance writer and editor.

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