It was a hot night, I’m told. Anne Baxter walked into her apartment, threw open every window, as well as the balcony door, in the hopes of catching whatever light breeze that might be lingering outside. She had just come from her job as manager of a local shoe store. It was late. She was tired. The only thing on her mind was going to bed. Anne threw off her street clothes and decided, because it was so warm, that she would sleep without the encumbrance of pajamas. Flinging the sheets aside, she turned in for the night and fell instantly asleep.
The air was still, heavy…
Heavy. It was hard to breath. Something hurt. Anne woke with a start. In an eternity of split seconds, she realized that something, someone, was lying on top of her.
That someone had climbed up to Anne’s second floor apartment from the street below then had waited in a dark corner of her balcony until she came home. In his pocket he carried a rope and a knife. He had come prepared. Patiently, the man had watched her get ready for bed. Later, when he was certain that she slept, he entered. He tied her hands. She didn’t stir. He straddled her and put one hand over her mouth. In the deepness of her sleep she felt his weight and began to wake up.
She tried to move but her hands wouldn’t respond. She struggled to scream but no sound came. In the shadows another hand was raised, and from that instant on Anne knew nothing but overwhelming pain as her attacker’s knife entered again and again into her body.
Anne had always been stubborn. She was the only child I ever baby-sat who could stand out in two feet of snow on a freezing cold January night in thin pajamas and nothing on her feet and scream back at me: “I am NOT going to bed!” She was no less stubborn as an adult. So Anne fought back, writhing and kicking with all the strength that she could find within her.
It was enough. Frightened by her resistance, the man flung himself off of Anne’s bleeding body and left the same way he had come in—through the balcony doors.
To this day, Anne doesn’t remember all the events that followed. But it seems that, even though she was bleeding from multiple stab wounds, she somehow managed to drag herself off the bed, across the apartment to the door leading out into the hallway. Trailing blood, she made her way to the next apartment and created enough noise to attract her neighbour’s attention. Then she collapsed, mercifully unconscious at last.
And where was God on that fateful night? Oh, He was there. Though she came very close to bleeding to death, not a single one of the many slab wounds that Anne received, touched any vital organs. That was a miracle in itself. The surgeon later told the family that if Anne had been wearing clothing, he doubted whether she would have survived. The knife thrusts were so many and so deep that any bits of cloth caught by the blade and driven into the wounds would probably have gone undetected and resulted in serious, life-threatening infection.
Where was God that terrible night? He was there with Pastor Baxter, Anne’s father, as he put aside his own grief and anger to comfort another father. Anne’s attacker was a boy from Baxter’s church, the son of a deacon. One grieving father entered into the grief of another that night.
God was also in the jail house when this same pastor arrived to try to minister to the deranged boy who had tried to kill his daughter. Baxter was a huge Irishman whose very physical appearance was intimidating. The police would not allow him in. They couldn’t believe that he would have anything other than vengeance on his mind. But in any case God walked through the bars that night and He is still there, standing beside a boy growing old, forever condemned to life locked in his own mad world.
And Anne? Physically she would recover from her injuries but what was stolen from her that summer when someone she thought she knew entered her apartment … well, only eternity can heal some wounds.
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