At first, Maria didn’t understand why Manuel wanted her to skip her day at the gas station. But soon a message revealed something incredible about the little boy’s instincts.
Little Manuel’s happiest hours were between the time his mom picked him up from school and after dinner, when she left him alone at home.
“I’ve missed you mom. How was your day?” he asked with a smile that stretched from ear to ear.
In those few hours, mother and son cherished every moment and shared every little detail of their day. She would help him with his homework and he would help her prepare dinner and fold the laundry.
Since Manuel’s father left, Maria has had two jobs. Every morning she did housework at Wilkins Hospital. And every night she worked one clerk at the neighborhood gas station.
Every night, Maria’s heart broke that she had to let her five-year-old fall asleep alone. The friendly lady who lived alone next door looked after him while she was away, but Maria knew how lonely Manuel must have been. When she returned, well after midnight, she found Manuel fast asleep, one foot out of the covers and a picture book on the floor or bedside table.
Working the night shift became increasingly difficult, especially with a bun in the oven. But if she could just last another month, things would get better.
“It’ll get better soon baby. Mom will be floating around you all the time.”
In a few weeks Maria had found a new job in a private clinic. That meant she and Manuel had to move to another part of town. But the pay was high enough for Maria to quit the second job.
The last few weeks at the gas station have been more demanding than ever. Maria had been asked to schedule overtime and train the person who would replace her.
Maria tried her best to put on a brave face in front of her employers and especially Manuel.
She knew he was a sensitive boy who would notice the slightest change in her voice or mood. Through all the darkness life had brought her through, Manuel was the only constant source of light and happiness.
Manuel was an old soul in the body of a five year old. He was unexpectedly considerate for a boy his age, and there wasn’t a friend of his who hadn’t heard him brag proudly about his mother.
“She’s the best mom in the whole world. She’s also the best dad in the whole world!”
Manuel was very happy when he found out he was going to have a little sister. And since then he took special care of his mother. He massaged her feet every afternoon until Maria fell asleep. Manuel also took out the trash every day unless it was too heavy to carry.
And when he walked with Maria, he held her hand and never let her go.
He was excited about the new life he, his little sister and his mom were about to start. And so, even though he wanted to keep her at the door every night, Manuel put a smile on his face and waved goodbye to Maria.
Except for that one night when Manuel just couldn’t let her go to work.
Sometimes it’s wise to follow your strongest intuition, even if you can’t explain it logically.
Not only would he miss her, but there was an inexplicable voice in his head begging him to stop Maria.
It felt like something was going to go wrong that night and while Manuel couldn’t explain it, he wanted to protect his mother without taking any chances.
Maria was resting on the couch. In another 20 minutes she would be up to make dinner and get ready.
“Mom, you look tired. Why don’t you take the night off from the gas station?”
Maria was touched by Manuel’s caring intent. “I really can’t, honey. Besides, I feel good.”
“But Mom… You haven’t made dinner yet. And I’d like to eat my favorite lasagna tonight.” Manuel tried another excuse.
“Lasagna, huh? Well, let’s see. I have some time.”
Maria got up from the couch and slowly walked into the kitchen.
Manuel felt deep regret that he had interrupted his mother’s rest period and given her more work.
“No, Mom. That’s fine. You can just make soup.”
Now Maria was worried. “Soup? You hate soup. What’s up honey? Don’t you feel fine?”
It was an excuse that Manuel believed would work. “I didn’t want to say anything, but I’m feeling feverish and a little weak.”
Maria’s heart melted. “How did I miss that?” she wondered. She immediately covered Manuel with an extra blanket, made him a hot meal and called her boss at the gas station.
The conversation wasn’t easy. Maria finally found bravery and said:
“I’m willing to work an extra day. But I won’t come today. I have to be here for my son. That’s non-negotiable.”
Manuel felt guilty throughout the rest of the night. Still, he couldn’t shake the strong feeling that something would have gone terribly wrong if his mother had gone to work.
The mother and son were watching TV as the cloudy weather changed dramatically. The stillness of the night was broken by an angry roll of thunder and repeated flashes. Manuel was scared and hugged Maria tighter.
Suddenly it was pouring rain and all the street lamps went out. Maria would not leave her son’s side and was relieved not to have left him alone that night.
Eventually the storm and rain subsided. The streetlights were still out, but there was nothing to worry about.
The rest of the night was uneventful. Manuel and Maria fell asleep in the living room.
The next morning everything was back to normal. Maria was up early and in the kitchen making pancakes for him. “Get out of bed, darling!” She seemed to be in a good mood.
However, Manuel’s guilt still gnawed at him. He had lied to her and cost her a day at work.
“Probably she had to endure a lot of scolding because of me,” he thought.
He tried to hide his guilt, but he finally got over his strange feeling.
“I’m sorry I lied to you mom. I wasn’t sick last night. I just didn’t want you to go because I thought something terrible was going to happen. I don’t know why but I had a feeling that your life would be in danger.”
Maria was surprised to hear that and didn’t know what to make of Manuel’s foreboding. For them, this was just one of those nights when it rained heavily and everything shut down for a while. She didn’t understand why Manuel said it was different last night.
All that changed with one phone call.
A friend who used to work at the gas station called Maria.
“Did you hear, Maria? Yesterday’s thunderstorm caused a terrible tragedy.”
Maria’s heart sank as she listened.
“The power pole next to the gas station collapsed on it. The employee who was in charge of your shift was seriously injured. You doubt if this person will make it. Thank God you stayed home last night. It’s a real miracle that the whole place didn’t burn down.”
Shocked, Maria hung up and turned to her son. His face was still red from tears of guilt.
“What’s mom? Did you get in trouble because of me?” he asked innocently.
Maria walked up to him, wiping away his tears and holding back her own. “No darling! You didn’t get me in trouble. You saved my life.”
What can we learn from this story?
Sometimes it’s wise to follow your strongest intuition, even if you can’t explain it logically. Manuel couldn’t logically explain his premonition, but it was so strong that he decided to follow her without taking any chances. As a result, Maria was saved from a terrible accident.
If something is bothering you, don’t keep it inside . Manuel struggled with guilt even though his mother was safe. If he had chosen not to open up and be honest with Maria, he would never have lost that guilt. At the same time, Maria would not have known that her son’s instincts saved her.
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