The Littlest Angel

The Littlest Angel

From Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul

The Littlest Angel

Come, O wind, from the dreaming west, Sweeping over the water’s breast; Bring my unquiet spirit rest.

Norah Halland

It was the winter that I taught in a small country school on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. I had three grades of little people in my class, all beaming with the desire to learn all they could. One little boy named David from my grade one class wanted to learn more than all the others. His round puffy face would smile up at me, reminding me over and over that perhaps one day he would leave us. His frail, six-year-old body harboured a dreadful disease— leukemia. More often than not, he would be missing from our classroom because when he was subjected to another round of treatments, he would take his schooling in Vancouver.

All of us were so pleased, then, to have that happy little boy with us for Christmas. We decorated our classroom, practised for the concert, and coloured many pictures of Santa, snowmen and angels. We read Christmas stories, and some of the older children wrote very good ones of their own.

Two days before school let out for the three-week Christmas holiday, I read a new story to the class. It was the story of “The Littlest Angel.” This little angel had an awful time in heaven. He could not adjust to the routine. He was always in trouble, bumping into other angels, tripping over clouds or dropping his halo. Nothing seemed to make his time easier until one celestial day an archangel suggested that the little angel return to earth and retrieve some items from his home. Just a few things to remind him of his past time on earth.

As I read the story, a heavenly silence fell over the class as each child became more involved in the plight of the angel. In hushed voices we discussed the story as the end of the school day drew to a close.

The following day during our regular show-and-tell time, David asked if he could share something with the class.

He sat in front of us on the old worn carpet holding a small wooden box.

“This is my first tooth,” he explained. “This is a ribbon from my sister’s hair, and this is my puppy’s collar. My dad gave me this old key. My mom says this big coin is for good luck.”

Even before he told us the purpose of the box, we all seemed to know. Shiny tears went dot-to-dot down the faces of the other children—we were all thinking of the story of “The Littlest Angel.”

“I have all these things so when I go to heaven I won’t be too scared. Maybe you guys could make a picture for me to take so I will always remember you?”

The rest of the day was spent doing just that. Each of us prepared a picture, folded it carefully and placed it in David’s wooden box.

The day ended with all of us saying good-bye to each other. Everyone gave David a special hug and received a beautiful smile in return. I went home that day with the memory of a little boy who fought his disease bravely and would one day accept his destiny.

When the holidays came to a close, we all returned to our class—all except David. He had died over Christmas in a hospital, clutching the wooden box that held his hopes and memories, and ours.

I have never forgotten him. I am sure many of the students from that class, who are now grown with youngsters of their own, also remember “The Littlest Angel”— and the gifts of love he gave to us all.

Brenda Mallory
Telkwa, British Columbia

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