66: The Last Message

66: The Last Message

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

The Last Message

Angels descending, bring from above,

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

~Fanny J. Crosby

My memory of that night comes in bright white flashes. I remember the back door opening. I remember “Silent Night” by Mannheim Steamroller playing on the radio. I remember a glass snowman filled with chocolate kisses sitting on an end table in the den. I remember Daniel’s face and his anger. I remember him telling me that Julie was gone.

I remember not understanding. “Where did she go? What do you mean she’s gone?” I remember my son looking me in the eye and saying, “She’s just gone.” And then I remember him falling to the floor.

Daniel has juvenile diabetes, so you can imagine how I felt the night the back door slammed shut and he collapsed. I was sure it was the diabetes. I remember shouting at him and screaming for someone to help.

After that, we couldn’t get Daniel out of bed. He wouldn’t cry. He just lay there and slept. On the second day, the principal of his school called me and told me he expected Daniel in school that day. I thought the principal was being callous.

It wasn’t until I pulled up in front of the school that I understood why the principal had called. There were hundreds of students waiting for Daniel to arrive. They needed him; he needed them. They surrounded him and vanished with him into the school. For the remaining days of the school year students were constantly monitoring my son. He was never alone. Never.

Days later, letters would arrive in mailboxes addressed by Julie to various people who were important to her. In those letters she apologized for what she had done. She expressed her deep sorrow and concern for those she left behind. She urged friends to keep succeeding and wished them happy and fulfilling lives. She didn’t ask them to understand why she took her own life.

I was there when my son’s letter arrived. I sat beside him as he read her words written in a yellow card decorated with daisies. He folded the card and slipped it back into its envelope. I’ve never seen it since.

Everywhere I looked there was sadness. My son was inconsolable. I looked to heaven and cried. I begged for answers and sobbed for relief for my son.

The funeral was approaching. It was creeping up on us like a cat stalking its prey. Where to go? What to do? The mall was safe. It was normal. It was “away.”

People briskly walked by chatting and laughing. Teenage girls flipped their hair and giggled. Mothers pushed strollers with sleeping children while toddlers tugged at their fathers’ hands. You could smell a mixture of popcorn and cinnamon in the air. No sadness, no gut-wrenching grief. Safe.

My son, my husband and I walked down the hallway of the mall as if we were weighed down by 500 pounds of pain. We watched normalcy unfold in front of us. It hurt. I thought I saw Julie in a group of girls walking away from me. No. I just wanted to know if she was all right.

We three sat together on a bench, staring at our shoes. We said nothing. We were so tired.

I looked up. There were two men standing in front of us . . . just normal guys dressed in plaid flannel shirts with their sleeves rolled up. They wore jeans and what we called “Chucks,” high top sneakers. The tall one stood back while the shorter dark haired one leaned forward and grabbed my hand. I recoiled, but he firmly grasped my fingers and said, “She’s okay. We’ve been sent to tell you she’s okay. She is with God and everything is fine.”

I turned to look at my husband’s startled face. I looked back. They were gone . . . disappeared into thin air.

I saw them. My husband saw them. But most of all, my son saw them. And we all heard him.

I always thought of angels as winged spirits with halos who flutter to earth in a shining glow of light and love. Not so. These were ordinary, approachable men who blended in with everyone else. There was no heralding trumpet, no glow of a halo — just ordinary guys sent to deliver a loving, reassuring last message.

~Rebecca Newman

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