A Snowstorm Prayer

As I pushed through the blowing snow towards my apartment, a woman appeared in front of me, some apparition emerging from the snowflakes. History has not recorded what she was thinking as she stood in my way, me with my crutches and groceries. What was I thinking? Well, perhaps it’s better you don’t know. . . .


In the days following Christmas 1980 in Ottawa my siblings talked me into roller skating. I have balance issues, as in I can barely walk down the street without tripping over myself, and I did not want to go. Family pressure prevailed. You guessed it. By evening the ankle was swollen and blue – and hurt like hell.

My sister was planning to drive us back to Toronto the next day so I decided to hold on until I got home. But one day turned into two. In retrospect I should have gone to the hospital in Ottawa as it was stupid to limp around on it for two days – but then, life in retrospect does sometimes look stupid!

Back home my sister was in a rush so she dropped me at the back door of my building with my luggage and Christmas accumulations and drove off. Climbing up the three and a half flights of stairs to my apartment (yes, my building had no elevator) carrying all my stuff on basically one leg did not fill me with sisterly love!

This was a rough period in my life with no money for taxis and so, without even unpacking, I took transit to the hospital. I had badly torn ankle ligaments requiring a leg cast for six weeks with no weight on it for two. I despaired over getting home so late but an angel of a nurse offered to drive me after her shift. I have never forgotten that kindness.

After a couple of days my leg was really hurting. I was angry and frustrated and knew something was wrong under the cast. I phoned my sister and she offered to drop me at emergency. I had to beg them to take the cast off where they discovered the plaster was rough underneath and cutting into my leg and even bleeding. They bandaged up the cut, put another cast on and I prepared to leave the hospital via transit, not in a good mood.

It was a cold January day and now it had begun to snow fairly heavily. At the stopover between subway and streetcar I bought a few much needed groceries as I knew I’d not be going out for some days.

The Carlton streetcar was packed tight. No one got up to give me a seat so I was balancing the bag of groceries over one of my crutches with one arm, trying to hold on to a post with the other and not put any weight on the leg in the process. After 15 or 20 minutes of trying to stay vertical and developing an intense hatred for all of humanity, I struggled off the streetcar and out into what was now a swirling blizzard at Sherbourne and Carlton.

I turned to head up the street towards home and . . . there she stood in the snow, blocking my way, leaving me no choice but to stop. I was beyond stunned but before I could actually speak she reached out and placed her hand on my shoulder. And then, standing there in that damn blizzard, she began to pray:

“Oh lord, please help to heal the leg of this young woman so that she may be whole and strong again. . . .”

Her prayers continued for some minutes with snow whipping around our heads and me trying not to fall over. It seemed rude to interrupt! Then she simply stopped and vanished back into the snowstorm, leaving me to continue stumbling up the street alone. I don’t know if the Lord actually helped my ankle mend but perhaps he helped me heal after all because what I do know is that I started to feel the anger lift and by the time I reached the bottom steps of my building I was hysterical with laughter.


  1. What a story! I really felt your pain and frustration. Then, just as I was about to explode with an angry tirade against humanity… you left me laughing. Thanks for sharing, Susan. Sometimes a good laugh is exactly what we need. Cheers! Cheryl

    • Susan McNicoll
      Jan 16, 2015

      Thanks Cheryl. The absurdity of the situation has always made me laugh whenever I have thought of it through the years.I know that my ability to see humour in most situations has always helped me. Apparently my life has required a skill like that!

  2. Catherine
    Jan 28, 2015

    What a great HUMAN Christmas story! I missed it for this year but will post it to FB for next year : )

    • Susan McNicoll
      Jan 28, 2015

      Thank you Catherine. I guess that means I am a human after all! Thanks for your support.

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