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It’s an Angelic World Out There

Several weeks ago my 11-year old niece passed away under tragic circumstances.  Like a candle in the wind, young Candice’s mortal flame burned out long before her time.  News of her death caused the flames of all who loved her to flicker a bit as we tried to comprehend and deal with the tragedy.  The grief has, at times, completely overwhelmed us.

Grief is the price we pay for loving so deeply.  It’s a universal experience all become reacquainted with from time to time.  Everyone deals with grief in unique ways, though there are commonly recognized Astages@ and modes of expression.  Those who grieve are no strangers to sleepless nights; feelings of regret, sadness, and confusion; preoccupation with thoughts of what might have been; aimless wanderings splashed with reminiscent ponderings; and tears, the ones that quietly run down your cheeks as well as those that nearly burst your heart.

For many, grief is tempered by religious beliefs; others find solace in the pleasant memories of their loved one.  Healing occurs in a number of ways as we allow ourselves to face B rather than artfully dodge B our pain.  For all, the passage of time is a most merciful ointment.

For me, the painful “owie” caused by Candice’s death is best treated with the medicine of hope.  The promise of a brighter tomorrow is found in God’s original inventions of Comfort and Reassurance.  My niece’s death has softened my heart and given me pause to consider how loving and forgiving I need to be towards others.  It has also inspired me to pen the following words, in tribute to Candice.

Are there angels here among us?

And just how do you describe an angel anyway?

An angel has dark hair and sparkling blue eyes, thousands of movable parts (and batteries are definitely included), a heart of radiant gold, and a melodious giggle that sounds like it tiptoed right out of its music box-home.  In all Honesty (her treasured horse), she’s a rider every horse dreams of having and is any Ninja’s (her faithful dog) best friend.  Sensitive by nature, an angel dances like a stream of moonbeams tumbling through your window.  She is innocent, yet perceptive, and she possesses gifts of tenderness, loyalty, and wisdom.

The true test of an angel is that she must constantly run around barefoot; stockingfeet are permissible only if the bottoms of the socks are liberally decorated with holes and dirt.  “Grade A” angels are straight ‘A’ angels; they are known at school for their hard work and good behavior. Always ‘N Sync’, an angel can hang out with the ‘Backstreet Boys’ but must be especially close to her cute little girlfriends.  Art and music must come to her naturally, and her creativity must include the ability to set up makeshift camping hideouts in bedrooms with but a few blankets and a sack full of candy rations.

An angel need not be perfect . . . she only need seem perfect.  Wings are not required on the standard model, but she does need to be able to soar like Tweety Bird.  Along with superb driving skills, an angel must possess the necessary charm to convince disabled grandpas that their red scooters really do need to go for regular “test rides” up and down . . . and up and down and up and down the driveway.  Exuberance will be found in cherubic abundance in her trio of favorite playthings, called a Sarah-toy, a Jeff-toy, and a Jackie-toy.

Above all else, an angel – and this may come as a surprise to many – must begin with the seed of mortality.  She must have a playful, rambunctious streak so as to keep her mother guessing and her daddy young.  However, she must also be able to experience the pain of those closest to her, which may leave her vulnerable to their strife.  Through her difficult trials she must come off as a polished replica of the Original.  An angel’s free spirit and love of life are her treasure; her gift to others is the legacy of her memory: whether in life or in death – she must bless the lives of all she comes in contact with.

Are there angels here among us?  I answer with the words of an Alabama song:

I believe there are angels among us

Sent down to us from somewhere above

They come to you and me

In our darkest hours

To show us how to live

To teach us how to give

To guide us with the light of love.

How do you describe an angel?  She is embodied in the life of my niece, Candice Janae Cheney.  This angel-girl – by her very presence – shared a bit of heaven with us all.  We’re fortunate she stayed and played as long as she did.  I’m sure she’s filled with unspeakable joy and wonder as she explores eternity on a playground of love, where angels get first dibs on the swings.

Yes, my friends, there are angels among us.  You need look no further than the stocking bottoms of God’s handiwork bouncing all about you.

Cherish the children.

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