My Angel and Me
by: Katelyn Y.

Most children lose sight of their guardian angels as soon as they are born and, as a result, do not remember ever seeing them. But most does not mean all; a small percentage keep their sight, some for several years and some only for a little while, but very few keep their gifts past childhood. For a little while, I was one of the lucky ones.

 

I was the miracle child; before I was born, my mother wasn’t believed to be able to have children due to her health and when I was born, I was born early and I wasn’t expected to live. But I did, though I grew up as an only child, something very rare in the middle of the twentieth century. My parents loved me dearly, but in 1941, just after America entered the Second World War, my father left to protect our country and the others that were being invaded. I didn’t understand what war was; my parents had only told me that it was a very bad thing and my angel was constantly telling me that the world would be a far better place if there was no war. But until my father disappeared, I didn’t understand what it was. Even though my mother cried anxiously as she kissed my father good-bye, I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. He was simply going on a long trip and would return soon. I didn’t know that sometimes people don’t come back.

 

My story starts on the day that I realized why people fear war.

 

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It was a few weeks before Christmas and I was six years old. My father had been gone for three months and no letter had come that week, but like most six year olds, I didn’t notice. I was upstairs in my room, happily playing tea party with my doll and pretending that we were grand ladies who drank real tea, when the doorbell rang. In my excitement, I dropped my doll on the floor and darted out of my room, nearly flying down the stairs in my impatience. Maybe it was a friend to play or a relative on a surprise visit!

 

But when I reached the top of the landing, I stopped, staring as my mother did, at the uniformed men on the doorstep. As one of the men stepped forward, my mother’s face crumpled and she began sobbing bitterly. “No, no.” she cried, covering her face with her hands.

 

As I watched in bewilderment, the man in front handed her an envelope, his face twisted in sympathy. “Now ma’am, we don’t know for sure that he’s dead, we just don’t know where he is. There’s still hope,” he said gently.

 

“How much hope?” my mother asked tearfully.

 

The look one the man’s face only made my mother cry harder and finally, after a few comforting words, the men turned away, leaving my mother sobbing in the doorway.

 

Slowly walking down the stairs, I asked softly, “Mommy, what’s wrong?”

 

She kept crying, then reached out and gathered me into her arms. “Daddy isn’t going to be coming home for a while, Natalie,” she said between sobs.

 

I cocked my head, squirming out of her grasp. “For how long?” I asked, wondering what she was crying for. Hadn’t we known since he left that he wouldn’t be home for a while?

 

My mother took a deep, shaky breath, trying to stop weeping. “They don’t know,” she whispered sadly. “He might never come back.”

 

“Never?” I asked, stepping back towards the stairs. My mother nodded, the tears sliding down her cheeks. For a moment, I stared at her, the word sinking into my mind and echoing in my head. Then I turned and fled back upstairs to my room, darting in and closing the door behind me. Turning around to face him, I said, “You said that my father would come home soon!”

 

The center of the room grew brighter as my angel reappeared, standing over me and looking down at me kindly. “Our Lord has made it so that it will be so,” he said, his voice gentle with a hint of reproach. “We must trust him.”

 

“But those men said that he was missing and my mom said…” I stopped; my angel was already shaking his head.

 

“It does not matter what men say; God’s plan will succeed when they say it is impossible.”

 

“So he will come back?” I asked, staring up at him hopefully.

 

He nodded and said, “How about a story?”

 

“Please!” I cried excitedly, collapsing on the floor. “Can you tell me the one where Jesus cures the woman in the crowd?”

 

My angel nodded and began, his voice gently floating through the room as I sat on the floor, my eyes shining eagerly. This was one of my favorite stories, though I also loved the story where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene after he rose from the dead. Of all the stories that my angel had told me, those two were my favorites.

 

When he finished, my angel sat quietly for moment, then said, “Do you know why Jesus cured the woman?”

 

I nodded confidently. “He cured her because she had the faith to believe that he could.”

 

My angel was silent for a moment. “The moment is coming where you will have to rely on faith and not on sight,” he said, staring down at me, “And you will have to be strong, for there will be many who call you a fool for believing in what cannot be seen and what is thought to be impossible. You must be ready.”

 

Before I could ask what he meant by any of that, I heard my mother’s voice, “Natalie!”

 

I scrambled to my feet and hurried to the door. As my hand touched the doorknob, I looked back to see my angel smiling as he began to fade from sight. I smiled back and as the light faded from my room, I went downstairs.

 

At the bottom of the stairs, I stopped, astonished to see all of my close relatives and friends standing in the parlor. My mother saw me instantly from her spot on the parlor couch and she waved me over. As I came closer, I saw that all of those around her were speaking in low voices and as I came up, they stopped, smiling down at me sadly. “Natalie.” I looked back at my mother, seeing her tear-stained cheeks and her red eyes as she held out her arms to me.

 

I ran into them, letting her envelop me into a tight hug as she closed her eyes. “You’re all I have left now.”

 

I twisted, glancing up at her. “What do you mean, Mommy?” I asked in bewilderment. “Daddy will come back home soon; my angel said so.” For some reason, I heard a snicker behind me and fresh tears came to my mother’s eyes.

 

“We can only hope, Natalie,” she said softly, hugging me again. “We can hope.”

 

I didn’t understand what she meant about only hoping, but then I looked up to see my angel standing next to me, shaking his head sorrowfully. “They don’t understand, Natalie,” he said sadly, “They can’t see their angels like you can see me.”

 

Well, I knew that; every since I was little I had known that. My parents had never understood that I wasn’t pretending when I insisted that an extra chair be pulled up to the table for my angel. They had talked to parents who said that their children had imaginary friends too, and that is what they had always assumed that I meant. I could never convince them that I really could see my angel, but just because they didn’t believe me, didn’t mean that they didn’t believe him; at least, I hoped that they believed in him.

 

My angel slowly began to fade away as the next door neighbor, Mrs. Woods, leaned down. “Why don’t you come into the kitchen,” she suggested gently, holding out her hand. “We can eat some of the cookies that I brought over.”

 

But my mother shook her head, pulling me even closer. “Let her stay, Margaret,” she whispered, “She just doesn’t understand.”

 

Mrs. Woods nodded and backed away into the crowd. For the rest of the night, I sat by my mother, watching and wondering how people didn’t believe me. Everyone was crying and comforting my mother, but no matter what I told them, they simply looked at me with a condescending expression. “Poor Natalie,” I heard one of them whisper as they retreated, “She doesn’t know that her father’s gone.”

 

I glared at the ladies retreating back and cuddled up against my mother. They were wrong; my father would be back and they would have to admit that my angel was right. Just wait and see.

 

The hours passed, but my mother seemed to lose track of all time and it wasn’t until the clock struck ten that she sent me to bed. As I walked up the stairs to my room, I could still hear the guests uttering reassuring words such as “Don’t worry, Harold is just down the street if you need anything,” and “Do you want me to take Natalie tomorrow?”

 

I darted into my room before I could hear the answers that my mother gave, but inside I was seething. Take me? Who in the world thought that my mother would want me to leave her when all of the other people downstairs were convinced that THEIR presence was necessary?

 

“Now you understand what I mean about faith without seeing.” I turned to see my angel watching me sadly.

 

“Why didn’t they believe me?” I asked, glancing back towards my closed door.

 

My angel sighed. “They have grown past the age where they believe simply signs. They have lived in the world long enough to have learned what happens sometimes when one believes in something simply because someone tells them to. But, instead of being wary of what they believe, they choose not to believe in anything that they cannot prove exists. One day you will reach that stage.”

 

“But I won’t be like them!” I cried, throwing my arms around him. “I’ll still believe in angels and in God!”

 

My angel smiled down at me, gently untangling my arms from around his waist. “Perhaps you will be different,” he said soothingly, “but that is for later. Now it is time for bed.”

 

I nodded, stifling a yawn and quickly changed into a nightgown. Slowly climbing into bed, I looked up at my angel as he pulled the covers up to my chin. “Can you tell me a story?”

 

He smiled kindly, nodding. Stepping away from the bed, he began, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week…”

 

I listened for a few minutes, but my eyes began to close and just as he got to the part where Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Jesus, I drifted off.

 

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For the next few days, the house was full of relatives and friends who came to comfort Mother. I spent most of the time in my room, listening to my angel’s stories and wondering how on earth someone didn’t believe in angels or in God. After a few days, the visitors began to dwindle away and by the end of the week, only my Aunt Maria and her husband came by. On the day that they brought my older cousin Claire with them, I realized how hard it is to convince someone of something’s existence.

 

We were in my room playing with my dolls when Claire asked, “Why aren’t you crying like your mother? Don’t you understand that your dad isn’t coming home?”

 

I glanced up at her, debating how to answer. Finally, I said, “Well, my angel says that he’ll come home eventually…”

 

“And you actually believe in angels?” Claire laughed.

 

I stared at her, taken aback. “Of course I do! Don’t you?”

 

Claire laughed again, shaking her head. “Angels are for babies,” she said smugly. “They’re like imaginary friends; once you get older, you realize that they couldn’t exist.”

 

“But angels do exist,” I insisted, standing up at rising to my full height of four feet. “I’ve seen them.”

 

“Really,” Claire said sarcastically, “So tell me, why can’t I see them?”

 

“Because you don’t have the gift,” I stated matter-of-factly. “Only a few people can see them after they’re born.”

 

Claire smiled condescendingly. “So you can see them, but none of us can?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“So how do we know if you’re telling the truth? How do we know that you’re not lying and making us all look like fools? We should just take your word for it?”

 

That stumped me for a minute, but then I replied, “Well, you just have to have faith in them like you do in God.”

 

Claire rolled her eyes. “Yeah, and that’s served people well.”

 

For a moment, I simply stared at her, trying to understand. Surely she didn’t mean what I thought that she did. “Don’t you believe in God?”

 

Claire laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. If there was a supernatural being, we’d feel it, wouldn’t we? And why can’t we see him? He wouldn’t simply expect us to follow blindly.”

 

I felt my heart stop and I turned to my angel for guidance, but he wasn’t there. I blinked in surprise, glancing around the room for him, but I saw nothing. Then I heard him whisper something into my ear, and though I had no idea what he had said, my mouth seemed to. “But you can’t see a lot of things. You’ve never seen the North Pole, but you know it’s there. How can you take people’s word on something like that, but not on something like God and angels?”

 

Claire blinked for a second before finally answering, “Well, there have books written about it…”

 

“But they’ve written books about God too,” I argued. “The Bible tells all about Him.”

 

Claire was still recovering from her surprise at my reply. “But… but that doesn’t mean that angels exist.”

 

I considered that for a minute. “Fine then,” I said. “If my father returns, you admit that my angel was right.”

 

Claire smiled at this. I could see that she was thinking about how disappointed I would be when I realized that I was wrong. “Fine,” she agreed, “but he has to come back by a certain time.”

 

I hesitated for a moment, but my angel whispered in my ear again and I nodded. “He’ll be back by Christmas.”

 

Claire shrugged and after a few minutes, she forgot about it, but later after her mother had taken her back home, I looked around my room again. “Where are you?” I asked, glancing around in bewilderment. Usually when I wanted to see him or when I need to, he was there. Finally a small light came from the corner near my bed and my angel appeared. I noticed immediately that he wasn’t as bright as he normally was and I asked, “Why aren’t you so bright today?”

 

He smiled sadly, shaking his head. “I’m as bright as I always am, but it doesn’t seem to you that I am because your gift is starting to fade.”

 

I cocked my head but after a minute, I understood what he was saying. “What?” I cried, staring at him.

 

He sighed. “Soon you will not be able to see me. I’ll always be here with you, but soon you will only feel me.”

 

“But I have to see you!” I said, running to him and throwing my arms around him. “You have to help me with things still.”

 

“I will be able to help you all the time, but you won’t know it or you won’t recognize it,” he said, gently untangling me from him and kneeling so that he could look me in the eye. “But in a few weeks, you won’t be able to see me.”

 

“But in a few weeks it’s Christmas!” I said as my eyes water. “You have to stay until after Christmas! You can’t leave while my father is still missing.”

 

He smiled. “Don’t worry, Our Lord has granted you the sight until after your father returns. You’ll see me until then, though you may not see me very well or for a very long time. You still have a few weeks left.”

 

I nodded sadly, trying not to cry. “But after that, you’ll be invisible to everyone including me.”

 

He started to reply, but at that minute, my mother called, “Natalie! Dinner time.”

 

I glanced from the door to back to my angel and he smiled again. “Don’t worry, you still have a few weeks,” He repeated, standing up. “For now, just worry about obeying your mother.”

 

I nodded and hurried to the door. As I opened my bedroom door, I glanced back at my angel, realizing that in a few weeks that I wouldn’t be able to glance back for reassurance. He nodded patiently, still smiling, and I started out of my room as he began to fade away.

 

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The next few weeks flew by and I felt as though my heart was torn in two. One part of me was eagerly waiting for my father to return, but at the same time, I didn’t want to lose sight of my angel. As a result, I walked around the house silently, spending most of the time in my room in hopes of seeing my angel. The days passed and I began to see less and less of him, though at times I could hear him whispering instructions into my ear. The times when I did see him, he seemed to have lost his glow and at times, it seemed that I could see through him. Dreading the time when I would no longer be able to, I begged for stories and he happily obliged, telling me all of my favorite stories and others that I had never heard. But still the weeks passed and Christmas drew nearer.

 

Finally Christmas Eve arrived. As was my family’s tradition, the entire family came over to our house to have Christmas Eve dinner and sing Christmas Carols. Even if there hadn’t been such a tradition, I think my relatives would have done it anyway, seeing how it was our first Christmas without my father. They still didn’t believe me when I told them that he would be coming home by Christmas and my mom had started tearing up when I told her a few days before Christmas that she just had to have faith. “Natalie,” she had said sadly, “I don’t think that I can.”

 

My entire family was at our house, including Aunt Maria and Claire who had smiled smugly at me as soon as she came in the door. I hadn’t smiled back because I had just seen my angel up in my room and I could barely see him. Even his voice seemed to fade in and out as his figure did. And on top of all that, my father still hadn’t returned and I had wondered if maybe my angel had been wrong after all. But my angel had gently reproached me, saying, “Natalie, it’s not Christmas yet.”

 

Dinner that night was silent and gloomy, and finally my Uncle Max said, “Well, this is an awful way to spend Christmas Eve. How about we sing some Christmas carols?”

 

All of my family nodded, their expressions relieved as we filed into the parlor and my mother sat down at the piano bench. A few minutes later, we were all heartily singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” when suddenly there was a knock on the front door. Everyone stopped and my mother frowned in surprise. “I’ll get it, Susie,” Aunt Maria volunteered, hurrying away. “Just keep playing.”

 

My mother nodded and her fingers passed gently over the keys as the piano sang the tune for “Silent Night.” Just as we were starting to sing, we heard a gasp from the hall and we turned to see Aunt Maria backing away from the door, her hand over her heart as a tall bearded man filled the doorway.

 

My heart stopped instantly as I leaped off my seat. Behind me, my mother gasped, “Erik?” and I darted to the door, flinging myself into my father’s waiting arms. A few seconds later, my mother was there as well, sobbing uncontrollably as she threw her arms around my father’s neck. My father was laughing, trying to hug me and kiss my mother at the same time as everyone else gathered in the hallway, surprised expressions on their faces. Laughing happily, I peeked out from where I was nestled in my father’s coat and glanced over at Claire. But before I could see her expression, a bright light appeared beside the stairs. I blinked in surprise as my angel appeared, glowing brighter than I had ever seen him. He smiled down at me and then glanced at Claire. I did the same only to see her staring up at him, her face a picture of shocked disbelief. I didn’t have to ask whether or not she saw him, or whether or not she believed me now; the look on her face was proof enough. Then my angel turned back to me, his face sad and I remembered his promise. I looked up at my father then back at my angel and nodded. He smiled gently and began to fade away. I watched until there was nothing left of him, but when he was gone, I looked at my father again. My angel had been right after all.

 

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That was the last time that I saw my angel. Sometimes, even though I’m older and more mature, I can still feel him standing behind me, whispering words into my head. I still remember the stories he told and one day I hope to see him again. But until then, I’ll remember when I was young and it was just my angel and me.

 

The End

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