Becca shot up in her bed; sleep had jumped away from her leaving her shaken and trembling from the dream. It had felt so real, surreal in fact. She had seen Azrael amidst the bombed out building guiding all those dead little children. She knew she had seen him, she would never forget his face, his eyes, his hair or his wings. She hugged her pillow and sobbed. How could there be such awful people in the world? What made people do such things in name of politics? Harming innocent children and destroying families. She knew the pain, it was all too familiar. The loss, the Great Sorrow, that seemed unbearable and all consuming in the beginning and then colored your world for the rest of your life.
The bombing had happened over a year ago to the shock and grief of a nation, the city and her town. Nineteen children had died when the daycare was bombed, four were from her town. This all in the name of someone’s misguided beliefs. It had shattered Becca’s belief in humanity. She was becoming jaded and dark from all of the pain and suffering she endured and witnessed. This was just one more example of man’s intense disease of spirit.
Becca sobbed herself back to sleep, at first it was dreamless and empty and then she saw him. Azrael hovered above her. Surely she was asleep but she wasn’t sure. She called out to him, “What? What does the Angel of Death want now? Haven’t you been busy enough?” She was angry with him, although deep down she knew it wasn’t his fault. She needed to be angry at someone, anyone.
Azrael continued to hover and then he broke his silence, “Becca, I need your help.” His words were soft and tender and filled with longing.
“What? How can I help you?” she said incredulously. Her anger receded and she pulled herself up in her bed. Azrael looked at her and smiled, “You’ve grown, no longer that defiant little five year old,” he laughed.
“Yeah, well I am older, but I still don’t like you!” she countered. “Azrael, what do you want? You didn’t come here to tell me I’m all grown up,” she was getting more and more uncomfortable.
“No, no. As you know a terrible thing has happened. I brought those children to Jannie sometime ago. She’s helping them adjust on our side. She’s wonderful, really, the children loved her immediately.”
Becca caught the emotion in his throat, was it from the children or from her cousin, she wasn’t sure. “So what’s the problem?” she hedged a little.
Azrael became a little brighter as he spoke, “We need you to talk to the parents, tell them it’s okay. That their children are with her and she’s taking good care of them.”
“Are you crazy? Exactly what am I suppose to say to these poor parents? No, I can’t do that. They wouldn’t believe me. Oh, go away Azrael, you crazy Angel!” Becca couldn’t believe she was even speaking to him; maybe this was just another crazy dream.
“Becca!” now his voice was commanding, “You must find a way to reach these people, their children cannot move forward when they are being pulled back, they feel their parents’ pain and won’t move forward. Jannie has done all she can, she asked me to come to you. She wants you to help from this side,” he explained.
“What does she propose I do then? Azrael, honestly, these people are consumed by grief, what could I possibly say or do that would convince them that their children are alive and well in heaven?” Becca felt helpless.
“Jannie will guide you, she will feed you the information that the children give her to prove to the parents that they are okay. It is the only way. You must become a mouthpiece between the worlds. I believe you humans refer to it as a medium,” Azrael explained.
“What if I can’t do this? What if I can’t hear her? God, you are asking an awful lot of me! Azrael, I told you fifteen years ago I didn’t want to work with you, I haven’t changed my mind.”
“You are not doing this for me; you are doing this for the children and Jannie. You want to help your cousin don’t you?” Azrael was almost pleading.
Becca’s suspicions were aroused, “What’s in it for you, Azrael? What’s really going on here?”
Azrael became uncomfortable, “I just want to help Jannie help the children. Please, it is the only way. She is so devoted to these children; she has given them her heart. She is beautiful and kind and…” he faltered.
“Oh, Azrael! You poor poor angel, now I understand,” Becca’s words were laced with sarcasm. “I don’t think I can fix what’s broken here, does she know?”
Azrael feigned innocents, “Does she know what?”
“Oh Azrael! She probably doesn’t even see you. Can you do that in heaven? I mean isn’t this inter-species or something?” Becca was riding him and enjoying making him uncomfortable for once.
“Becca, that’s quite enough! Either you want to help us or not. I have asked, I cannot make you do anything you do not want to. I will not ask this of you again. Please think this through before you say no.”
“Answer me this and then I will answer you,” Becca was coy. “Are you in love with Jannie?”
Azrael seemed pained, his voice was soft and full of angst, “Yes, if that is possible, I do believe I am.” He looked to Becca with hope in his eyes. Somehow this was something Becca could understand, if anything it made Azrael more human if that was possible.
“Okay, I will help. Just tell Jannie she had better be good at this. And don’t worry, I won’t say anything, I mean, God, I don’t know what I think about any of this!”
“Thank you, Becca. Good bye for now,” Azrael bent down and kissed Becca’s forehead, she felt a tingling sensation rush through her as his powerful angel energy infused with hers. It felt delicious and for a fleeting moment she wished he had been in love with her. Sleep overcame her in an instant and she rested in a dreamless state.
Becca awoke with a start; memory of the night’s visitation flooded her consciousness. ‘Azrael was here, oh God!’ she thought. That one thought was enough to ponder. She pulled on her jeans and sweatshirt, grabbed a cup of coffee, roused her dog, Kallie and set off to walk the early morning mist.
She loved the morning, the rising of the sun over the stark treetops, coloring the sky in various shades of oranges, pinks or sometimes lavender hues. Every morning the sky painted itself anew, it was a small moment of joy in her heavy heart. This morning the sky was an intense blood orange pushing up through the low lying clouds and outlining the budded but unbloomed spring foliage. The air was cool but promised coming warmth. The morning birds sang tirelessly, announcing the coming of a new day.
Kallie lumbered down their trodden path, she knew the way. They would make their way down the winding path through the tall pines and maples past the scrub pines until they came upon the lower marsh land with its cattails and sandy banks. Water fowl scattered as the dog and young woman approached. Some taking to the sky calling out their displeasure of being interrupted in the early morning rituals. Turning back up the path they retraced their steps.
Becca sipped her coffee as she walked. Allowing nature to awaken her senses more fully, she felt safer, more connected to this world in the midst of the trees. They released a coolness of their own, a calming energy that radiated into her mind.
Once she finished her coffee she allowed herself to revisit the night’s visitation. Azrael had come to her; she knew this in her heart. She had been mourning the loss of those small children for the past year, it all made sense now. Jannie was over there trying to comfort them, help them, she must have felt this. She had prayed for those little souls and their families every night hoping that in some small way it would help. Now Azrael wanted more, he wanted her to do something she had no idea how to do. How could she possibly approach this without sounding crazy? Without causing more pain to those grieving parents. She needed guidance, she needed help, she needed courage.
She was lost in her thoughts when she sensed Kallie becoming overly excited. The dog was whining and scratching at the base of a cedar tree. Becca went over to investigate, ‘probably just a squirrel’ she thought. Kallie calmed and backed off when she approached.
At first Becca saw nothing, she looked around and up the trunk. The robins flew from their nest and watched from a safer perch. Suddenly Becca got the urge to climb, she looked around to make sure they were alone; afraid if someone saw a twenty year old in the trees they think she was a bit daft. She easily scaled the tree and found herself high in the thick of the cedar. She inhaled its scent and felt the peeling bark against her hands. She laughed out loud, “Why did I ever stop doing this, I’ve forgotten how cool this is.”
Reaching the apex she peered through the small branches scanning the landscape below. She saw the marshland that meandered into the bay that sheltered itself from the distance ocean. Her apartment roof was visible as were the low lying buildings that made up her small neighborhood. Sleep still mingled in the minds of its occupants. The sky had opened itself up from its initial reds to creamier pinks and yellows. A crow flew quite near and she saw its small dark eyes surprised by her mere existence.
Suddenly her stomach grew cold and cramped, ‘he will come’ she thought. Before the thought had fully formed, there before her Azrael appeared. His beauty was perfect; he hadn’t aged in fifteen years. But something had change about him, last night was still a fuzzy memory, but now, here he was in all God’s glory, hovering with open wingspan, iridescent plumes shown in the morning sunlight. His expression had softened, that was what was different, he was not as aloof as he once was.
“Shit! Azrael, again?” Becca blurted out. She absorbed his image.
“Good morrow to you as well!” he stated quite formally. His gaze never left hers; she had always amused him, her defiant tomboy exterior. He imagined her personality had only grown stronger over the past years. “Did you slumber well?” he ventured.
“Really? Are you kidding?” Becca found him exasperating at best. “No! I didn’t sleep well, remember? You were there!” For a fleeting moment she wondered if she had only dreamt of Azrael, but that kiss to her forehead lingered, the tingling remained, she knew he had been there, she couldn’t have imagined that.
He released a laugh that felt like the cool water bubbling over rocks in a brook pure and with purpose, running down, down to their source.
“So this is funny now is it?” Becca asked. “You were quite serious last night weren’t you? So what is it then, Azrael? Was that a joke or something?”
“No, little one, last night was not a joke. Excuse me for my laughter, I just find you highly amusing, I mean,” he stammered a bit knowing this conversation was going down the wrong path. He cleared his throat and made his face stern, “Truly, I am here again so that you realize the seriousness of the situation.”
“Yeah, I can see that, Mr. Serious, yeah right!” Becca didn’t like to think she was amusing to anyone; it made her feel small and inconsequential. She looked away hoping he’d just leave her be.
“I do apologize. All that we spoke of last night is why I am here. I have seen Jannie since and she is ecstatic you are honoring her wishes to help these children. She believes she knows where you should go to get help, to become better equipped to receiving her signal.”
“Where? Where should I go?” Becca was intrigued.
Azrael made certain Becca was looking right into his eyes as he spoke, “The church.”
“What church?” her suspicions rose.
“The Catholic Church, there is a new young priest who is open to this type of divine intervention. Jannie has been watching him. He has also been working with the families of the victims,” Azrael revealed.
“Oh really? A catholic priest will help me? Won’t he think I am doing the devil’s work or some such nonsense?” Becca countered.
Azrael laughed deeply, this time like the heart of the earth, rich and fiery. “No, he won’t. He has been looking for you. It is all part of God’s plan.”
“Oh, so this is God’s plan, not yours?” Becca commented.
“Becca, I would never do something to displease our Lord. I come with great authority to ask such things of you. Lifting the veil between our worlds is permissible, in fact it happening more and more as the days of Earth grow longer.”
“So I am to trust you-implicitly? I am not even a catholic, why would this priest give me the time of day?” Becca reasoned.
“He will; he knows you are coming, he is waiting for you.”
“Okay now that’s just creepy! How does he know me?” Becca was uncomfortable.
“We have planted dreams as answers to his prayers. He prays for peace and healing for these families and you are his answer. Trust, Becca, trust that this is what God intends for you.”
The young woman wavered, this was much to take in, finally she spoke again, “Azrael, may I ask you something? Don’t you ever get tired of doing God’s bidding? Bringing the dead to the spirit world, all the heartache and suffering you have seen. Aren’t you just tired of it?” Becca spoke softly on the wisp of a tear.
Azrael moved closer to the young woman, extending his hand he brushed her cheek with tenderness. She whimpered as she felt him, “Some are called to do great things by small acts of love. God has called me and now he has called you. Becca, do not shy away from this. Love, great and small, is all that truly matters in either world.”
Tears spilt from her blue orbs falling down past the branches of the cedar tree. “Okay, okay,” she whispered swallowing her emotions in great sobs. She descended the tree.Kallie greeted her with her usual excitement and offered the comfort that only a dog can to a human. Becca didn’t even bother to look back up to see if he was still there, she knew he had gone, that was his way. She spent the rest of the morning in prayerful silence, asking God to guide her, truly guide her in this mission.