She thought Azrael would appear and scold her. She had done the complete opposite of what she had promised him she would. She thought he would haunt her dreams, but instead there was just silence. No beating of wings, no midnight visitations or hovering in the trees, Azrael was nowhere to be found.
Her guilt was all consuming; she broke her promise to Jannie and Azrael and was beyond rude to someone who at the very least could have become a good friend. Even Molly had backed off when she told her what she had said to Father Ian. Molly, the one person who always had her back, who always made her laugh, who understood her, she thought. Becca curled up in bed for three days feigning a stomach virus. She couldn’t sleep or eat, she was miserable. This has to be hell, she thought or at the very least purgatory.
She tried to pray but felt her prayers never left the room; they weren’t balloons of light but rather of lead, earth bound and full of self pity and disgust.
Sunday arrived and she decided to attend Mass. She sat in the back melting into the shadows and listened. She wondered if God attended mass. Was he listening? When everyone had gone she made her way to the confessional, she didn’t realize that confession was done prior to mass. She sat in the little booth and waited. Soon the little screen opened and Becca managed; “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned, I have never confessed, but I would like to now.” She spoke the words she had heard others speak.
If Father Ian recognized her voice he didn’t let on and just said, “Go on,”
“Most recently I did something terrible. I took the Lord’s name in vain and said hurtful things to someone who has been kind to me. Please forgive me. I cannot sleep or eat or forgive myself, please Father, forgive me.”
“You are already forgiven, Becca. Can you forgive me for being so unprofessional?” So he did know. She sighed and went on.
“Father Ian, there is nothing to forgive. Now I am going to tell you why you know me. If you can help me, please let me know, if you can’t it is okay. We will find another way.”
She then went on to explain her relationship with Jannie and Azrael. How Jannie is the spiritual mother to those nineteen little souls killed in the bombing and how Azrael had come to her to ask her to be a medium to offer comfort to the parents.
“He said you would be the one to help me get to the parents. Azrael was certain this would work. He said the little ones cannot move on in the spirit world because their parent’s grief is holding them earthbound.” She stopped and waited. Father Ian left the confessional, she didn’t move. The curtain fluttered and she felt his hand as he led her out of the booth.
He understood her now, her resistance to being asked to do something beyond anything she felt capable. Her anger, her confusion, it all made perfect sense, God was giving her a task that stretched her soul and Becca struggled, it was what humans did.
“Of course I will help you. But I will tell you, I have been working with these parents for over a year and it won’t be easy.”
They sat down on the very pew that they had sat together on their first meeting. “We meet every Tuesday night at 7pm. Will you come to our next meeting?” he requested.
“Alright, but I really don’t know what I am doing,” Becca said nervously.
“Just let the Holy Spirit move you, you will do fine.” Father Ian suggested. “It will all work out, it is God’s plan. And it isn’t a stupid one either.”
Becca smiled, “I hope you are right. I don’t want to add to these people’s pain.”
“I know, Becca, you’re heart is pure, even if your mouth is filthy!” he joked.
“Nice talk, Father!” Becca laughed. Suddenly she felt extremely tired. It had been days since she had really slept.
“Let me walk you home, you look exhausted,” Father Ian offered. He took her hand and guided her out of the church.
Before Becca allowed herself the sweet release of sleep she prayed, first to God and then to Jannie and Azrael. Then she prayed that the prayers would get to them. She half smiled to herself and finally felt at peace.
The four children sat quietly in meadow encircling Jannie. She gently explained to them that they remained there because of their parents’ grief in the earthly plane. The others had moved forward, escorted to the Garden of Remembering by Azrael one by one as the earthly hold expanded and released them, but grief drew these few back time and again.
It was not uncommon, the bond of love between a parent and child would always remain, and under the tragic circumstances of their passing the bond was less elastic. The children sensed their parents need for healing, they wanted to stay as close as possible, the Great Meadow was as close to the earth plane than any other place for the children. It was here where they first transitioned, where they met their spiritual mother, where they spent their time in play. But all souls need to heal, the heavenly ones as well as the earthly ones.
Jannie and Azrael needed to intercede on behalf of the children and their parents, this was what was meant to be. Jannie understood that Becca was the key. If they could convince the parents their little ones were safe and out of harms’ way in God’s country, their healing would no longer be stifled, the bond of love would expand and the children could move forward in their spiritual growth.
Azrael reappeared with a swoosh of his wings and sat within the tiny circle. He looked at Jannie, his mind swirled and then refocused, she had that effect on him. He had watched her expand her love for these children, embracing each and everyone, offering them the comfort and guidance they needed. She was a natural nurturer, she was an echo of the Divine Mother, his admiration and love grew for her.
Jannie smiled, “Well? Did you speak to Becca?” she asked full of hope. She trusted Azrael beyond measure.
“Yes, I spoke with her,” he replied looking at all the hopeful faces.
“And?” she encouraged.
He gave an abrupt laugh, “You know your cousin! She is resistant at best! I do believe she will become more comfortable with our request. It may take her some time to find the courage to go forth,” he spoke carefully as not to diminish the hope of the eager faces. Becca had always been a quandary to him, she was strong willed and sometimes out right belligerent towards Azrael, not that it mattered. ‘Humans do that’, he thought, he knew it was just a defense mechanism. He had faith Becca would find her way, help them help the children, if for no other reason than her deep love for her cousin.
Jannie saw it first, the golden prayer orb pushed up through the surface. She went to retrieve it, it was warm and pulsating. She held it in her arms and absorbed the love that had been sent, it was from Becca to her and the children.
Returning to the circle she smiled and then passed the golden orb to the sandy haired girl next to her. Each child held the prayer for a moment and a smile emerged as they passed it to the next. Azrael was the last to hold it, he felt the weight of the prayer, its contents were warm and loving.
“It appears Becca has come to terms with this,” he began. “Soon we will have a bridge of communication with your parents,” he acknowledged to the children. They nodded happily.