|"Our Lord has
written the promise of the resurrection,
not in books
alone, but in every leaf in spring-time."
~~ Martin Luther
you had a blessed Passover and Easter Sunday!
Here at JABB, we have our own (far less exalted but still exciting)
celebration on April 26th. It's the anniversary of Andrew's
promotion to angel of death! So I wrote a short story kinda about
that. More cheap therapy for me. ;-)
Since I know the stories aren't everyone's cup of tea, I've also
written a Tax Day-themed list. Yes, I know Tax Day was over a
week ago but it didn't quite rate doing a special issue so you're
getting that now.
Dyeland doesn't actually
have a taxation system. They're a
barter economy. For example: Andrew mows Rose's lawn, Rose bakes
him cookies. (Or vice versa... no need to stick with traditional
gender roles!) Andrew fixes JenniAnn's drippy sink, she
his closet. (That probly should NOT be vice versa.) And so
on. But if Dyeland *did* have a tax
code, I think Andrew would need some of his own questions and
In and Outs of the Dyeland Tax
Code... If You're Andrew
The number of dependents you are able to claim should equal the number
of Dyeland citizens. Cause, trust us, they all depend on
you. (But if you start to feel overwhelmed, you must tell them or
prepare to face the Angsting Without Talking to Anyone Special Tax
will be used to fund your nearest and dearests' psychiatric bills.)
2. You may not, however, count any umbrellas as dependents even
if they do double as your dance partners.
3. Any flannel shirt related expenses incurred while in Dyeland
can be deducted as charitable donations since they will be "borrowed"
by your mortal, female friends.
4. All handkerchief purchases
and related laundering expenses may also be deducted since your friends
used most of those, too...
5. An Education Tax Credit will be issued if you offer
proof of all education-related assignments. Bonus Education Tax
Credit will be issued upon receipt of audio or video proof of any
recitation of poetry or other forms of literature in class.
6. Please indicate any hair styles you intend to have during the
coming fiscal year:
enough for a ponytail
Please specify ______________.
o Crazy long ZZ Top beard
Tax payer will understand that
the answers to these questions afford no
additional tax credit or liability but are merely asked to enable
government to deal with any fall-out from follicular changes.
7. Please list the number of hours you have acted as any of the
following with Dyelanders pro bono:
voice of reason and/or affection
If you filled in any of the
above (and we know you did), you are entitled to a credit of 5
bazillion hugs to be paid out in increments over the course of eternity.
8. How many tassels are
on your shoes? You owe big time for each tassel.
Blech. But we love you, anyway!
9. How many songs with
sucky/inappropriate lyrics did you make your friends listen to?
You owe 10 hugs for each song. And a dance to a *nice* song.
10. How old are
you? What!?! It was worth a try!
here's the deal... in
Dyeland stories, I've found myself really into "flash forwards" which
offer a glimpse of the potential Dyeland of the future. I still
really like that idea but it's become somewhat painful now as Andrew
will eventually age* well past his forties. Nonetheless, I feel
need to keep going down that path because the messages of unconditional
love, compassion, and sacrifice that this particular story line was
meant to illustrate seem even more important now that John's in
Heaven. So here I'm trying to ease myself back into considering
the future by offering a glimpse into it but not really, at this time,
getting into what Andrew will look like when it arrives.
I feel like I might have written this even were John still with
us. But I also think some of the lines here seem very...
meta. So just a warning there.
those of you who
in late 2009/early 2010, Andrew decided to age along with his human
friends for myriad reasons... like one would assume Kelly aged some in
"As It Is In Heaven" or Claire in "Jacob's Ladder." However, this
process isn't set to
for a while yet. But they all know this change will eventually
So here goes...
starlight, and several lawn torches illuminated Andrew's yard; making
colored tents circled around a campfire. It was April 26th,
and due to the pleading of the Tunnel kids and the beautiful
weather, Andrew's celebratory barbecue had morphed into a
camp-out. Shadow puppets in many of the tents revealed some
of the children had already settled in for the night, though clearly
yet asleep. But a handful of the little ones and many of
the adults remained near the fire, listening intently to the angel of
death as he completed the story that most already knew but never
tired of hearing.
"And then I escorted President Lincoln Home," Andrew finished
"Wow..." Asher stared at the angel in awe. "What did you
"I just told him how impressed I was with the things he'd said and done
and how honored I was to escort him Home. That God loves him, of
course," the angel responded. He noticed then that Rose was
grinning at him and tilting her head to her left shoulder
repeatedly. Looking to his left arm, Andrew saw that Shelby
was no longer leaning against him simply out of affection. She
fallen asleep. He smiled tenderly at the six-year-old before
looking back at the other children. "Now I think it's time
about going to bed," he suggested in a hushed tone. "It's almost
"But back home we sometimes stay up til midnight," Evan protested.
"Sometimes even later," Jessie added.
Asher nodded vigorously. "Sometimes until the morning!"
At that, Adam groaned and rose from a wooden bench, stretching his
arms. "Well, whatever you kids decide
to do, I'm going to my tent. There's nothing quite like falling
asleep in a tent... beneath the stars... curling up in your sleeping
bag... hearing the soft wind... owls." He sighed dramatically.
The kids eyed each other, tempted by Adam's vision and silently
agreeing to give up their bid for a
Adam grinned slyly at the adults as the children gathered their
blankets, shouted good nights, and raced off
to their tents.
"Smooth move, Adam," Yva applauded with a wide smile.
"Every word of it true. And I am headed that way. I have a
tentative at 4:56. Need to get some shut eye first." He
looked down at Andrew who was gently picking Shelby up. "Buddy,
congratulations. I for one have been very proud to count you
among our ranks for 146 years."
Andrew smiled up at his longtime friend. "Thanks, Adam. You
had some good role models," he added meaningfully. When he stood,
Adam hugged him, careful not to disturb the sleeping child.
The others followed suit, quietly bidding their friend good night until
only Andrew, JenniAnn, their two dogs, and the girl were left.
"So... where should I
carry Shelby?" Andrew asked, looking to JenniAnn for guidance.
"She and Millie staked out their tent after dinner,"
she whispered. "The sky blue one. I'll go with you and get
sleeping bag set up."
Once inside the tent, JenniAnn checked on the slumbering Millie,
straightened the battery powered lamp the girls needed as a night
light, and unrolled Shelby's
sleeping bag. She smiled when Fawn curled up at Millie's
feet. Lulu waited near Shelby's spot as Andrew
crept in and gently set the child down. The basset
hound immediately cuddled
up beside the girl and received an affectionate rub behind the ears
Andrew was tucking the
sleeping bag and an extra blanket around the little girl when she
"Sing the song, please, Andrew," Shelby whispered groggily, gripping
Andrew looked to JenniAnn, afraid of waking Millie.
"Go ahead. As a rule these kids are heavy sleepers and used to
noise at night," she encouraged, not wanting to miss the chance herself
to hear the angel sing.
Quietly, Andrew began to sing the lullaby which had become his
signature song with the littles ones. "'Tender shepherd, tender
shepherd, let me help you count your sheep.'"
Cursing herself for being such a sap, JenniAnn swiped at a tear that
was rolling down her cheek. She continued to stare at the
precious scene before her, wishing she could freeze time.
"One say your prayers and two close your eyes and three safe and
happily fall asleep,'" Andrew finished. He smiled at the little
girl and kissed her hand. "Good night, Shelby. If you need
me, I'm going to be watching the fire. Just follow the light and
you'll find me, okay?"
Shelby nodded drowsily. "'Kay. Night, night, Andrew.
Night, night, Psyche," she murmured, burrowing into her blankets and
closing her eyes tightly.
"G'night, Shelby," JenniAnn whispered before kissing her charges'
foreheads and exiting the tent.
The angel of death smiled again and silently prayed that the two girls
have a peaceful night before following his friend outside. "Walk
with me," he requested, holding out his hand.
Without hesitation, JenniAnn went with Andrew back to the fire.
She took a seat on the ground, resting her back against one of the
benches. She smiled when he settled beside her.
"Something wrong, Laja?" he asked with concern, leaning down to search
JenniAnn laughed. "I'm fine. Just a totally ridiculous,
crazed sap who thinks 'Tender Shepherd' is totally worth crying over."
"Hey now, that sap has been my friend for over eleven years.
talk about her like that," Andrew protested, hugging her.
"All right then. I won't. She's a smart girl with
impeccable taste in men."
The woman squeezed his hand before gazing up at the
stars. "Tonight's so beautiful."
"You're being elusive. All night you've just seemed kinda... I
don't know... pensive. And, well, weepy."
JenniAnn smirked. "Knew I shoulda stuck with those acting
classes in high school..."
Andrew drew in a deep breath, sensing she was going to keep
laughing his concerns off. But he knew she needed to talk
about whatever was troubling her. And he knew how to make
The angel of death cleared his throat. He turned to face the
bench and began tapping rhythmically on it, softly so as not to wake
anyone sleeping nearby.
JenniAnn craned her neck and looked curiously at the man whose rakish
grin was evident even in the dim light. "Uh oh..." She
"'Heathcliff! It's me. I'm
Cathy! I've come home now,'" Andrew sang very poorly, setting
aside his usual talent. He was pleased to discover he sounded
even worse in hushed form. "'Let
me in your winnnndoowwww!"
JenniAnn began to laugh. "All right, all right. Do you not
find it rather ironic that the song you've latched onto to keep me from
going off the deep end is about two of the most demented people in all
of English literature?"
The angel grinned. "Cautionary tale. And it works, doesn't
it?" He looked
intently at her. "Well, doesn't it?"
The woman sighed. "As always."
The bravado fell away from Andrew. He turned back to face
JenniAnn and looked at her with all the concern and love he felt.
"I dunno..." she began. "I mean I'm
super psyched that it's such a special day for you. I love that
Promotion Day gives us yet another reason to celebrate the awesomeness
that is you. And fondly imagine your huge sideburns."
JenniAnn's face lit up when she realized Andrew's
red and it had little to do with the nearby flames. But when he
looked at her with that gaze that always assured her nothing
she said could drive him away, she sobered. "I just... I got to
thinking... what if you got promoted again? I mean you're such a
wonderful angel of death and if we all," she gestured to the tents,
"see that then surely God does. And how... I mean how would we
know if He intended to give you another role? Maybe... maybe one
that would... would..."
Andrew tilted his head nearer to her, straining to hear as her voice
"I mean some angels don't leave... well, they don't leave Heaven much,"
choked out. "Like Ronald. He didn't for a long time.
And while I don't see the Father sending you to Records, it's still
possible that... that..."
"Laja..." Andrew embraced her again, not letting go as quickly as
"I would be happy for you. I really would. You'd deserve
that. But for us..." She broke down and began to cry.
The angel rested his chin on her hair and stared out at the
stars. It was difficult to assure someone you'd never leave them
when they knew all too well that sometimes people go away without
or choosing it. But Andrew accepted the task. He knew he
would spend their whole lives
trying to convince them if necessary. He prayed for guidance then
pulled away so JenniAnn could see his face and know his sincerity.
"Laja, I won't lie to you," the angel of death began. "That can
happen. But I don't... I just can't imagine the Father doing
that with me. Besides, I think you already threatened to sue me
reckless abandonment of a human if I left. And you were going to
go after me for... what did you
call it? Angelimony?" He lowered his voice
and drew back just enough to give his friend a conspiratorial
look. "We don't really like that sort of publicity. Neither
Despite her tears, JenniAnn began to laugh.
Seizing the moment, Andrew continued his bid to console her. "I
have never heard of the Father awarding promotions that His angels
didn't want. And, Laja, I wouldn't want that. Not
now. Not for a long time."
"Really. Sure, it might be cool to, you know, be in charge of
throwing the bowling balls when the Father wants it to thunder..."
JenniAnn gasped. "I... I thought that was just something we tell
kids so they don't worry during storms!"
Andrew chuckled. "It is. But I couldn't think of a better,
example because I've never... never... thought about what I might do if
coming to Earth and here any more. So just... don't you think
about it, either. Okay?"
The woman had begun to smile at his accented "nev-uhs."
"Okay. I would... I really would be happy for you, though," she
vowed, peering up at Andrew. "So long as you were."
"I know, Laja. But let's just focus on being happy *now.*
Right here. And... I think with company." Andrew's face lit
up with a smile
when he turned around to see a handful of their friends creeping back
to the fire.
"Hey, you guys. I thought you must still be up. We heard
talking," Rose explained.
JenniAnn's eyes grew wide and her cheeks crimson.
"Nothing anyone could understand," Lady Beth quickly clarified.
"And I decided a little time spent under the stars with friends was
worth some lost sleep. Is it all right if we rejoin you?" Adam
"Of course!" Andrew accepted as JenniAnn nodded eagerly.
Soon a little circle composed of Andrew, JenniAnn, Rose, Lady Beth,
C.J., Yva, and Adam formed. In hushed tones, mindful of the
children, they reminisced and made plans for the summer to come.
A lone figure stood near Andrew's willow tree a few yards off, unseen
by the friends
laughing and talking by the fire. Had He allowed them to see Him,
each would have immediately recognized their Creator and Father.
But in that moment it was enough that they feel His presence as they
always did: in the beauty of creation, in the love of each other, and
in their own hearts... hearts He had willed and loved into
existence. God knew the burdens and worries they carried.
He knew the future that JenniAnn had fretted over only moments
before. His loving gaze settled on the blonde angel of death as
thought of that day to come.
there would be another promotion. Already He could see the angel
making his way, alone, through the Fields of Gold he loved so
well. Then Andrew would look up and find the valley brimming with
people. For a moment, his eye brows would arch... as if he didn't
quite believe what he saw. Then he would see Him. All
cares, worries, and griefs would fall away from the angel of
death. He would run, smiling, towards the crowd. God knew
the words He would speak to His beloved
child. The Creator laughed as He saw the joy that would be writ
Andrew's face and his friends'. Never
again would any of them fret over being parted from their beloved
In the present, the little group remained near the fire. Andrew
was fired up and pitching his latest construction scheme... a
with which to teach the children about botany and agriculture.
Adam readily agreed for the sheer challenge and fun of it. The
girls assented for one major reason of their own: tool belt
The Ancient of Days continued to look on as the
and the women laughed good-naturedly. He smiled at His
creation. His still, small voice assured them that, no matter
what came, all would be well and He was
pleased by the bonds of friendship and love that had grown among
them. They were the bonds that would carry over into Eternity
where they would dwell forever with all those they loved and with Him
who loved them so.
"Wuthering Heights," the lyrics of which Andrew sings, was composed by
Kate Bush. The story goes that on the night Adam created "Spin
the Bottle-Dyeland Style" [in which you have to sing a randomly chosen
duet with whomever the bottle points to], Andrew and JenniAnn wound up
with "Wuthering Heights." They completely butchered it since she
can't sing and he can't hit the off-the-wall high notes...
understandably. So now whenever she gets darkly broody, he sings
it to make her laugh and ease the tension. Plus, I just like the
song and book.)
(Photo Credits: The
photographs used on this page are from "Touched by
an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon
Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)