25: Dancing with the Angels

25: Dancing with the Angels

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Dancing with the Angels

Angels have no philosophy but love.

~Terri Guillemets

Every year for my birthday my sister Gale, the artist of the family, would send me a one of a kind masterpiece she’d painted. A cabin resting on a lake, an ocean wave crashing against the beach, three palm trees bending in a breeze. . . The painting, carefully wrapped in brown paper, faithfully arrived in September, the month both Gale and I were born.

As summer approached, I already wondered what subject my sister would choose to paint for this year’s birthday gift. Would it be another ocean picture? Would she choose a mountain scene this time?

Then we received the devastating news. Gale had cancer. Unfortunately, it had already metastasized. There was nothing the doctors could do to prolong my sister’s life.

By the time July arrived, with all its fanfare, waving flags, and fireworks, Sissy was already being visited by hospice. By August, she was planning her funeral, with loved ones surrounding her bedside. We released butterflies heavenward, shared childhood memories, and wiped away each other’s tears.

Soon Sissy headed for heaven as well, and as I sat in front of her coffin while the pastor delivered her eulogy I wondered if my heart would ever be whole again. I’d been my sister’s shadow growing up. She had been my hero.

Days earlier she’d asked a favor of me.

“Promise me you will be a happy camper now, Sissy. Life is short. Promise me right now! I am going to check in with you on my way to heaven you know. I’ll be sending you a sign that I am dancing with the angels like I promised.”

Too teary-eyed to see my sweet sister’s face in front of me I blindly reached for her arms, nodding my promise.

Sis knew I’d been making major changes in my own life for months. After a thirty-four-year marriage that had seemingly died, as well as having raised four beautiful kids, I’d moved out of our home in Virginia and returned to my roots in a small town in Ohio. I rented a one-bedroom apartment, already feeling more at peace than I had in years. My niece, however, offered to deliver any keepsakes I might want from the Virginia homestead when she returned from a visit to my brother’s.

It was then I remembered my sister’s paintings, suddenly wanting them around me more than the air I breathed.

That weekend Amy and her husband and boys arrived with the cherished items.

“Here they are, Aunt Mary. . . there’s something we have to ask you though. We couldn’t help taking a peek at the paintings. We’re curious people you know. When we pulled out the painting of the palm trees bending in the wind it was the back of the canvas that captured our interest most. Have you looked at it before?”

I couldn’t help scratching my head in bafflement.

“I’m sure I have, but there wasn’t anything on the back of the canvas that I can remember.”

“Well there is now,” Amy murmured solemnly as she flipped the canvas over.

I heard myself gasp as I spotted the pencil-sketched angel, her outstretched hands joyfully praising God as she danced amongst the clouds. Next to her, a banner in bold letters trailed across the sky. It read: 4 My Sissy.

My sister had kept her promise. She’d made sure I knew she was dancing with the angels at last.

I knew what I needed to do. Making my way to an open window of the apartment I slowly blew a kiss on its way.

“Here’s to you Sissy. . . .”

“What was that, Aunt Mary?” my nephew asked.

I gathered Nathan into my lap.

“That my dear, was a kiss from a very happy camper.”

~Mary Z. Smith

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