It was a Thursday morning, a few years ago now, when the forecasted high was below freezing, and soft tufts of snow fell from an endless gray sky. I was driving to work, late as always, knowing I wasn’t going to make it that far.

Earlier that morning, I had made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, changed diapers, and asked my husband to take the kids to daycare, knowing I wasn’t going to make it that far.

I had paid my bills, washed the breakfast dishes, and written the note I’d rehearsed in my head, eloquently lamenting on the milestones I’d miss, knowing I wasn’t going to make it that far.

You see, it was on that cold, blustery Thursday morning that I was going to surrender. Lose. Forfeit. My depression had won, the weight my shoulders carried became unbearable, and I wasn’t going to make it any farther.

I was driving toward what I thought would be the end. The end I so desperately needed. The end I would choose.

But, wouldn’t you know it, I had left my car radio on.

And a song came on.

My song.

It was my song playing through my car speakers on the only radio station that came in on that stretch of the road.

It was a song I loved, by an artist I loved, with a tune I loved. It was a song that reminded me of love in that moment where I had forgotten I wouldn’t always feel lost. Sad. Hopeless. And, mostly, nothing.

The song that played on the radio made me feel. It made me remember all of the times I had sat in the car listening to that song—running late to a meeting, placating a screaming toddler, or ignoring a full bladder—just to make it to hear the final three chords.

Because, regardless of my pressing obligations, when that song came on, I stopped. I listened. I enjoyed. I loved.

And, on that day the radio saved my life, I pulled over. I stopped driving toward the end. And I just listened.

I listened, and I felt my breath as it went steadily in and out, and I remembered things my depression had made me forget.

I remembered the first time I had heard that song, when I paid cash for a CD at the closest Wal-Mart, and rushed home to pop it into my little boom box that went through four “D” batteries an hour.

I remembered hearing that song as I drank my first beer at college, with people I didn’t know would soon become my friends, celebrating a successful semester and screaming out, “This is my song!”

I remembered hearing that song at my first concert with my would-be husband when we couldn’t afford anything but nosebleed seats, and gently held hands while swaying to the music, smiling our toothiest smiles.

I remembered hearing that song while rushing to the hospital, deep in the trenches of labor, when it had carried me through those relentless contractions.

I remembered dancing. Dancing to that song with my beautiful children in our kitchen—the kind of crazy dance that makes you hope the neighbors aren’t driving by.

I remembered the pure joy of dance, of music, of family, and of love.

The joy my depression had taken from me.

The joy the radio had returned to me.

My body forgot how to process the emotions I felt that I hadn’t experienced in so long. That moment of pause pulled me, by my ears, and made me listen.

And I am so glad I heard that song play on the radio.

I cried, then. Really cried. The kind of cry that can only come from unimaginable grief. But I grieved for myself. I had battered through the wall depression had built, and I could hear the music.

And it was in this grief that God tipped my head up to the sky. Not to admire the heavens or to pray or to feel the rays of sunlight that had bored their way through the clouds. But, just as wondrous and miraculous, to notice the billboard that was not more than 30 feet away from where I had pulled over.

A billboard advertising a suicide prevention hotline.

That. That right there. That, folks, is divine intervention if I ever saw it.

Because He knew I just needed to hear that song.

That low point was what I needed to get the help I required, deserved, wanted. It pulled me from my rock bottom. It kept me alive, it made me healthy, and it brought me to see my children grow, my marriage heal, and my laughter slowly creep back, coloring my memories with brightness.

And that radio saved my life.

 
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Katelyn Stoll

Katelyn Stoll is a mother to three young boys and lives on a farm in rural NY. She navigates the rough waters of postpartum mood disorders using humor, support from her family, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.