praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully
made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the
secret place, when I was woven together in the depths
of the earth.
eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for
me were written in your book before one of them came
Psalm 139: 14-16 NIV
This is the issue in which we celebrate Andrew's Observed
Birthday. The story you'll find below isn't what I set
out to write. But I went with it. Cause I'm
living vicariously through the Dyelanders now.
Whatever's going on in my mind and heart that led to this
story... I hope John knows that some day all the love and
all the hugs and all the enamored words these characters
heap on Andrew are coming to him. For all
eternity. So he better be prepared. :-)
To get us started... a birthday message from
am so grateful that God gave you to us. You have helped me
so many times and I truly hope you know that.
thank God for the presence of many angels that have been in
have taught me about love and courage and I adore you.
you and Happy Birthday,
September 20th, 2011
If anyone had happened upon the wide expanse of lawn
between Willowveil Castle and Serendipity, they might have
thought they were viewing the birthday party of any average
thirty-something man. The yard was teeming with picnic
tables, each donning brightly colored balloons and framed photos
of the birthday boy. Only if the visitor examined each of
the photographs would they begin to suspect that there was
something decidedly different about the honoree. One photo
of Andrew teaching some children to fish had been taken only a
few days before. But on the table beside it the same
gentle face, here rimmed by sideburns, stared out of a tin type
photograph. Two tables from that was a print of a cave
drawing on which an arrow had been drawn pointing to one
primitive individual. Andrew's name was scrawled above the
figure. Though it was a joke, it was also true that no one
could definitively rule out the possibility that Andrew had at
one time or another been the muse of an ancient artist working
in the Magura Cave. And the angel of death himself
remained coyly silent on the subject when asked.
Whatever they made of the photographs, any newcomer with a kind
heart would have instantly warmed to the guest of honor.
Andrew's usual friendliness and cheer were even more evident as
he made the rounds, chatting with friends old and new. He
was visiting with Mick St. John when JenniAnn approached and
tapped his shoulder.
"Billfold, please," she
requested, holding out her hand.
Mick looked on with an
arched eye brow as Andrew chuckled and handed over his wallet
without question. The P.I. was further surprised when
JenniAnn began rifling through it and the angel continued to
refrain from making objections. Eventually, the woman
seemed to find what she needed, folded the wallet back up, and
returned it to its owner.
"Thank you very much!" she called as she trotted off towards
"All right, explain what that was just about," Mick demanded as
Andrew slid the wallet back into his pocket.
"It's the traditional
checking of the driver's license." The angel's airy tone
suggested he saw this as a perfectly normal event.
"Because JenniAnn's suddenly
become worried that you've been driving illegally?"
The angel of death laughed
again, took a sip of his champagne, and shook his head.
"No. See, when they first came up with this 'observed'
birthday idea for me they covered my cake with candles.
You know, because I'm so ancient."
"Very," the youthful
Andrew shot him a look but
continued. "But then in 2003, there was a goatee singeing
incident..." He winced and absentmindedly stroked his
chin. "So... after that the girls decided I'd only have
three candles to represent the past, present, and future.
But then that really confused the kids who couldn't understand
why I only had three candles when I'm definitely not a toddler."
"Apparently they haven't
seen you attempting to play hop scotch. That's some
toddling all right," Mick teased, grinning over the rim of his
Andrew crossed his arms over
his chest. "If anyone ever decides to roast me, I know who
I'm gonna suggest as host!"
Mick laughed. "Only if
I get Adam as a co-host. But go on... no more three
"So JenniAnn went out and
bought some of those candles shaped like numbers. Now
every year she checks whatever driver's license I have on
September 20th and uses the corresponding numbers for my
cake. So this year I'm getting a 3 and a 6 because for the
time being I'm 36."
"Logical. I like
it. So did JenniAnn even bother to buy the whole set or
did she stick with 3 and , I dunno, maybe a 4, then 5, 6, 7...
has she ever needed the 8?"
Andrew paused to consider
this. "You know, I've never thought to ask. Since we
started this she's only had to use 35, 36, and 37 but..."
His voice trailed off.
"It's not going to stay that
way, is it? You still set on that whole aging along with
The angel surveyed the
crowd, smiling tenderly at Yva as she helped one of the children
decorate a cookie with the frosting and candy decorations Willy
had supplied. His gaze shifted to where Rose was playing
tag with some other children. Then to C.J., showing off
one of her horses to some Tunnel dwellers. Lastly, Andrew
looked to Willowveil where he knew JenniAnn and Lady Beth were
putting the final preparations on his cake. "Very set," he
"Thirty six!" JenniAnn called
as she returned to the kitchen.
Adam began to dig through a box of cake decorations with
Andrew's name emblazoned on it, finding a green 3 and 6.
He handed them to Lady Beth who situated them in the center of
the beautifully decorated red velvet cake she had baked.
"Well?" she asked.
Adam and JenniAnn admired the cake.
"Very impressive," the angel of death complimented as JenniAnn
nodded in eager agreement. "Although..."
"What?" Lady Beth prodded, looking concerned.
"Nothing about the cake itself. It's great. Trust
me. I snuck a bite." Adam grinned when Lady Beth
affectionately punched him in the arm. "It's just
something I was thinking about when I was looking for the
candles. Something that was missing."
"You mean your candles? JenniAnn put them in a different
box. I remember from your party last year," Lady Beth
"No, I noticed my box in the drawer." Adam
laughed. "It was hard to miss the neon turkey
stickers. I just mean... well... JenniAnn, you bought a
3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and even a 9 although I noticed the last two
were still in boxes. But you don't have 0, 1, 2, or 4."
JenniAnn shrugged. "When I bought them I was having a
rare lapse of practicality I guess. The whole time
Andrew's been here, I don't think his driver's license has
ever listed him as younger than 35 so I didn't think I'd ever
need his green candles for 30, 31, 32, 33, or 34. Trust
me, if he ever shows up in September with ID saying he's 34,
I'll rush right out and get him a 4," the woman assured with a
smile as she began to pile silverware into a basket. "I
rather hope he doesn't, though... Kinda got that thing
for older men, ya know. And at 34 next year Andrew would
be scarcely older than me... appearance-wise, I mean."
"I know," the angel of death began cautiously, "but I was
thinking more... 40, 41, 42, and so on."
JenniAnn abruptly stopped what she was doing while Lady Beth
set down the cake she had been prepared to carry outside.
"You mean he hasn't... had second thoughts about that?" the
former asked Adam.
Setting a hand on her shoulder, Adam shook his head.
"JenniAnn, you know Andrew's not going to have second
thoughts. That's not who he is."
JenniAnn nodded, biting her lip and twisting her ring.
"It's going to be all right when it happens," the angel
assured. "Sure, I might develop some sort of complex
when Andrew's going around looking older than me. I
enjoyed lording it over him with my very obvious maturity,"
Adam joked, trying to lighten the mood. "But Andrew...
he'll be great. And, hey, maybe it won't even happen for
a long time. Who knows. Maybe next year you'll
need a 4 because he'll have had a run of stress-free,
walk-in-the-park assignments and be 34. Forty might be a
long, long way off."
"Adam's right. Let's just focus on Andrew's 36th...
again." Lady Beth picked the cake back up while Adam
grabbed a massive bucket of ice cream. They carried the
sweets through the hallway and out into the yard.
JenniAnn followed them, carrying the silverware. She
tried to heed Lady Beth's advice but it was easier said than
done. She had a sneaking suspicion Andrew's "fortieth"
birthday would arrive before any of them knew it. And
nearly two years after his announcement of his plan, she still
hadn't completely made peace with it. Nonetheless, she
smiled brightly as they stepped onto the lawn. Whatever
the future would bring, Andrew deserved to have this
particular birthday pass without any drama or angst.
Tess was the first to see the two women and Adam
approaching. She abruptly pulled Andrew away from his
conversation with Mick and plopped him down at a table near
the center of the yard. "Your cake's coming, baby, and
the sooner we get that cut up the better. I love those
little babies over there but if I get asked one more time when
the cake and ice cream are being served..."
Andrew laughed as Tess warily eyed a circle of Tunnel children
she had been visiting with. Then he looked to his
dessert-bearing friends. He could already taste the red
velvet cake. "Tess, I am happy to oblige."
"Everyone gather around Andrew!" Henry yelled when he, too,
noticed the cake's appearance.
Andrew blushed as Lady Beth placed the cake in front of him
and he read the icing message of "Happy '36th' birthday to the
dearest and loveliest of all Andrews."
Lady Beth laughed. "Since I made the cake, JenniAnn
offered to help decorate it. And I happen to like what
she did with it."
"The icing does not lie. Its message is very
true." JenniAnn nodded solemnly before shooting Andrew a
teasing smile. "Just, ya know, thought you should match
your nice, red cake there."
Rose grinned. "A nice red cake I can tell he's about to
start sneaking frosting off of if we don't hurry."
"Gettin' very tempted here!" Andrew confessed.
"Can we sing now?" Shelby asked eagerly as she hopped up and
down to the side of Andrew's bench.
"Just one last thing..." Adam produced a lighter from
his pocket and lit the two candles. "Happy birthday to
you..." he started with the others soon joining in.
As he was serenaded, Andrew smiled at the many, many friends
clustered around him. There were at least three dozen
Tunnel denizens including a number of the children along with
Vincent, Catherine, Owen, and Father. The entire Los
Angeles contingent was singing with gusto. Lady Beth,
JenniAnn, Rose, Yva, Sir Sven, Willy, and C.J. were all
beaming at him. Several of the pets were clustered near
his feet, looking up at him with doting eyes. And
interspersed through out the crowd were many of the angels who
were closest to Andrew: Adam, Henry, Eli, Nigel, Monica, Tess,
Gloria, and Sam. Thinking about how many people from all
different walks of life had come together to celebrate his own
life brought grateful tears to the angel's eyes.
Andrew wasn't the type to make a wish while blowing out his
birthday candles. But when the song had ended and the
children giddily egged him on, the angel made a silent
birthday prayer: "Dear Father, whatever the years
ahead bring, please keep my friends in my life. You know
I love them. Don't let us ever be parted for long.
And please let those who have drifted away from us know that
we still think of them, that we still love them. Thank
You. I love You."
Just as he finished the prayer and stood back up after
extinguishing the two candles, Andrew felt drawn to look at
his house. He felt immense warmth and love as he stared
at his bedroom window. The urge to run up there was
strong but the still, small voice that guided his life told
him to stay put. Thus, he turned his attention back to
his friends who were vying for hugs.
Unbeknownst to the crowd
on the lawn, there was a visitor at Andrew's party.
But this Visitor would never have been confused by the
photos of Andrew because this Visitor was no stranger at
all. He knew the celebrated angel better than
anyone. He had created him. Even though
September 20th had been chosen on a whim by Andrew's
friends, God Himself celebrated the day, just as He
celebrated the births of all His children. And He
had come to bestow His own gift. But first he
surveyed Andrew's room, growing closer to His child by
experiencing the room and all it held while in human form.
The Father picked up some car keys and held them in His
hands for a moment, smiling as He recalled Andrew's dismay
at finding himself saddled with a green mini-van three
years before... a van the angel had thanked Him for
countless times since. Next, God's gaze rested on
the well-worn leather jacket hanging from Andrew's desk
chair. He could still remember how the angel of
death's face had lit up when he'd tried it on for the
first time. He knew that tucked inside the right
pocket was a creased note reading "Just wanted to let you
know we're thinking of you. And that I think you
look super adorable and lovely today. Okay, so I'm
not there. But I still know. Love,
Laja." On the bedside table, offering a little late
night aspirational reading, was a handmade cookbook from
Lady Beth. At the center of the bed was a
hand-stitched teddy bear still wearing the plaid bow Yva
had tied onto it years before. Coiled in a box
sitting on the dresser was a shark tooth necklace Rose had
made for Andrew when they'd found it during a walk on the
beach. On the angel's desk was a paper weight formed
out of a horseshoe that C.J. had designed for him.
Lulu's bed, seldom used as she preferred Andrew's, was
pushed into a corner. Drawings from the children
were on display in the small study that adjoined Andrew's
bedroom. Inexplicably, the football he used to play
with Adam, Henry, and many of the others was balanced on
the top of a lamp. God smiled when He glimpsed an
Irish coffee mug Monica had once given Andrew as a
sheepish thank you gift. Finally, He focused on the
quilt folded along the bottom of Andrew's bed. It
had been his birthday present from his friends the
previous year. A meaningful piece of fabric from
every person gathered around Andrew at that moment was
stitched together, forming one eclectic whole that somehow
had become a masterpiece.
The Father was running His hand over the assorted squares
of fabric when He heard.
"Dear Father, whatever the years ahead bring,
please keep my friends in my life. You know I love
them. Don't let us ever be parted for long.
And please let those who have drifted away from us know
that we still think of them, that we still love
them. Thank You. I love You."
God smiled. If only Andrew knew what He did...
A few years later...
Adam led the crowd of
people through the tunnel that connected Willowveil to
"Just remember, the third stair from the top really
squeaks. So step over it," JenniAnn
whispered. "Pass it along."
A murmur went through the tunnel as the tidbit of
information made its way to the end of the line.
"You speak like you've done this before," Adam teased
as he quietly opened the door to Andrew's basement.
JenniAnn became very intent on smoothing her son's
fly-away hair as she balanced him on her hip.
"Well, I have to come collect laundry
sometimes... Only fair since Andrew does all the
yard work... Isn't that right, Avi?" she asked
"Funny how Andrew's laundry always seems to consist
solely of flannel shirts when you collect it..." Eli
mused with a devilish grin.
Adam chuckled then focused on the clipboard he was
holding. "All right, kitchen crew goes in
first. Remember to keep it down. As far as
Andrew knows, he's the only one in this house," he
reminded as ten people hurried past him, carefully
maneuvering trays and dishes of food they had prepared
"Gloria, your team set?" JenniAnn checked.
The angel nodded eagerly. "I came over yesterday
and did the extra wiring. We won't even need the
full twenty minutes to get everything strung!"
Adam and JenniAnn balked as Gloria led her team up the
Tess made her way towards the front of the dwindling
line. "Did that baby say extra wiring? I
better go check in on this and make sure they don't
send this whole place up in smoke."
Before she could respond to assure Tess that was
unlikely to happen, JenniAnn felt a tug on her dress
and looked down to find her daughter, Annabel.
"Mommy, when we gonna bring Uncle Andrew his
breakfast?" she asked while holding up the picnic
basket she was carrying, her tone revealing that she
thought "Now" would be the perfect response.
Adam chuckled. "Why don't you three head up
now? Just remember, don't let the birthday boy
leave his rooms until 7:30 at the earliest. And
keep the curtains drawn!"
"Will do. Thanks for handling the rest of
this. Trust me, we'll make it up to you next
month," JenniAnn assured as she took Annabel's free
hand and headed towards the stairs.
"Let's wait on that until we see how this wiring issue
goes. I may want to celebrate my
birthday in a cave," Adam responded with a
grin as he waved her on.
Once JenniAnn was on the main floor, she smiled in
amusement at Gloria and Henry as they whooshed by with
reels of twinkle lights. The latter whispered
something about the banisters that JenniAnn thought
she was probably glad not to have heard. She led
Annabel up another set of stairs, Avi still resting
"Now remember, we don't tell Uncle Andrew about the
other people being here cause it's a surprise.
Annabel nodded excitedly.
"Very good. Now just a sec." JenniAnn went
to Andrew's door and set her ear against it. No
noise. He was likely sleeping since it was only
just after 7:00 and he'd had a run of exhausting
assignments. She hated to wake him but Adam had
already cautioned her that Andrew would be
disappointed if he later learned he'd been allowed to
sleep in at the cost of spending time with friends...
some of whom he hadn't seen for years. Relying
on that, JenniAnn waved her daughter over and knocked
on the bedroom door.
"Mmmmm?" came the response.
"There's someone here with a very special birthday
breakfast for you," JenniAnn called as Annabel beamed
"Happy birthday, Uncle Andrew!" the girl yelled.
A moment later a sleepy but thrilled looking Andrew
threw open the door. Avi began flapping his arms
excitedly while Annabel hugged the angel's knees until
he lifted her up. JenniAnn simply stared.
Even wearing flannel pajamas and a clashing robe, with
hair wildly askew, and glasses slightly crooked in
evidence of being hastily thrown on; Andrew still sent
butterflies a-flappin' in her stomach.
Nonetheless, JenniAnn wrested her focus back onto her
charge to keep the angel from suspecting his house had
been invaded. She grabbed the picnic basket
Annabel had dropped then closed the door.
"Well, now this is a really great birthday surprise!"
the angel declared, hugging Annabel once more before
taking the clamoring Avi from JenniAnn. "I
wasn't expecting anything until the party this
JenniAnn smiled. "I know. But Annabel
couldn't wait." She tilted her head towards
where her daughter was already unpacking the basket
and loading the contents onto Andrew's bedside
table. Lowering her voice, she continued.
"She made it all by herself. Wouldn't let me
help at all. We'll get you more breakfast
later." It was all she could do to keep from
grinning at the thought of the smorgasbord being
prepared below them.
For his part, Andrew was touched by the messy
strawberry jam sandwich and what appeared to be an
Annabel-designed cereal consisting of equal parts
Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Fruity Pebbles, and
Seeing Andrew cradling one child in his arms and
looking so tenderly upon the other, JenniAnn found
herself getting misty-eyed.
"Laja..." The angel shifted Avi so he had one
arm free to hug her.
"Sorry... I'm just being a sap. Got to
thinking about... well, it was one of your
birthdays. Probly 7 or 8 years ago. Can't
remember exactly. And I was feeling all worried
about you doing the aging thing. I was
particularly hung up about your fortieth. And
now here we are and..."
"And?" Andrew prompted.
"Everything's more wonderful than I could have ever
The angel smiled. "I couldn't have said it
better myself. Although I'm definitely thinkin'
forty is right on." He quickly glanced at
himself in the mirror, waving at Avi's reflection and
making a face which caused the baby to giggle
loudly. Turning back to JenniAnn he added, "I
think I found a gray hair yesterday."
Before JenniAnn could make a response, Annabel skipped
over and yanked on Andrew's robe. "S'ready!" she
cried as JenniAnn took the baby back.
Andrew was about to suggest they go down to the
kitchen but seeing how perfectly Annabel had arranged
the food, he kept mum. He then realized how dim
the room was, lit only by his bedside lamp.
"Let's get these curtains open and let some sunl..."
Annabel dashed towards the window and shook her
head. "Let's pretend we're in a cave. Like
bears. No windows. Roar!"
JenniAnn suppressed a laugh and made a mental note to
later congratulate her four year old on her quick
"All right..." Andrew agreed, eye brow arched.
"But do you think we could be bears who have more
lights on in their cave?"
"Yep!" Annabel agreed.
Andrew roared something that sounded vaguely like
"Thank you" then turned the ceiling light on.
"Can I use your quilt?" the little girl asked.
As Annabel was in the habit of tossing his quilt over
the table in his study and rendering the space into a
makeshift tent whenever he babysat, Andrew thought
nothing of assenting to the child's request and smiled
after her as she trotted into the study. Little
did he know that as soon as the girl was out of sight,
she met Catherine at the door leading out to the hall
and the two hurried down the stairs with the quilt.
Back in his room, Andrew sat on his bed and tilted his
head towards the cereal bowl and sandwich. "Did
the three of you already eat? Cause I can
JenniAnn nodded, telling herself that since Avi had
had his first bottle of the day and she and Annabel
had grabbed bananas it was technically not a
lie. "Yep so you go right ahead. Lotsa
yummy sugar right there." She settled
cross-legged on the edge of his bed, setting Avi on
Andrew grinned. "Yummy," he agreed after taking
a bite of the cereal concoction.
"So, umm, were you serious about the gray hair thing?"
JenniAnn asked after a few moments.
The angel swallowed a bite of sandwich and
nodded. "It actually wasn't the first one I
"And how... well, how do you feel about that?"
Andrew shrugged. "It was a little surprising, I
guess. Hadn't really planned on that starting so
"It's maybe not surprising given the work you
do. All those emotions... all the stress... all
the desperate people... then tending to matters
here." JenniAnn shook her head, daunted.
Reaching over and squeezing her hand, Andrew peered
into his friend's eyes. "I love my life,
Laja. And I love people. Even the
emotional, stressed, desperate ones," he
JenniAnn returned his smile. "Good. But if
you ever do feel anything the least bit negative upon
finding a stray gray hair, I want you to remember
something. You've never looked better to
me. And I'm not the only one who feels that
way. A few of us were just talking about it
earlier this week actually and feel you ought to
consider maybe getting some restraining orders in
place before, say, your 45th birthday. Cause if
you keep getting better and better looking... which
the evidence before me suggests will be the case... we
can make no promises about keeping our distance."
Blushing, Andrew burst out laughing.
"Restraining orders, huh?"
"Might be for the best. Catherine even took the
time to draw a sample up for your
consideration." Handing Avi off to Andrew,
JenniAnn got up to retrieve a document out of the
picnic basket and handed it to Andrew.
He chuckled as he read. "Defendant shall not
stray from a distance of 120 yards..."
"Football field length. We thought it would make
it easy for you to remember," JenniAnn interrupted.
Eyes twinkling, Andrew continued. "'From the
plaintiff, His Studly Awesomeness.'" Andrew's
brow crinkled as he tilted his head and looked up to
the woman. "You know, I've been a lawyer before
and I'm pretty sure these usually say 'Defendant shall
not come *within* 120 yards of the plaintiff'.
And I think proper names are usually preferred..."
JenniAnn shrugged. "Typos. Easy mistakes
Andrew smiled at the ridiculous document then reached
for the woman's hand. "Laja, thank you.
For this. For all that you said... for bringing
the kids over." He kissed the top of Avi's downy
JenniAnn settled beside the angel and hugged
him. "Happy birthday, Andrew," she murmured.
"It is," he assured.
For a few minutes, as Andrew enjoyed his breakfast,
the two chatted with Avi merrily cooing along between
them. They reminisced about the nearly twenty
years their ever-changing but constant group had
shared. Then, when Andrew had emptied the cereal
bowl and finished the sandwich, he called to Annabel
to thank her. Of course, there was no response.
Andrew looked at JenniAnn in alarm then leaped up from
the bed and darted into the study. The woman
cradled Avi then hurried after his namesake and set a
hand on his shoulder.
"Annabel's fine, Andrew. She's just working on
another surprise for you downstairs." JenniAnn
hoped that partial truth would keep Andrew from
guessing at just how big of a surprise was about to be
Andrew turned to JenniAnn and folded his arms over his
chest. "What have you got going?"
JenniAnn grinned. "If I told you, it wouldn't be
a surprise. So just go get dressed and Avi and I
will wait in the hall for you." Before Andrew
could make any further comment, she stood on tiptoe,
kissed him on the cheek, and darted out the door with
Avi. She prayed that Andrew's curiosity would
push him to hasten his morning routine and keep him
from wasting time glancing out the curtained windows.
Carefully cradling Avi to her, JenniAnn hurried down
the staircase and began hissing "You have five minutes
at best!" to every person she ran into. Avi
giggled the entire time, seemingly amused by his
mother's frenzy. After three minutes, JenniAnn
rushed back up the stairs, did her best to look
nonchalant, and waited at Andrew's door.
He was smiling widely when he stepped out; shaggy hair
tamed and pajamas replaced by jeans, a white T-shirt,
and a green and black flannel shirt. "Now I
wanna see just what exactly you've..." Turning
towards his staircase, Andrew gawked. The
railings and banisters were covered in the twinkle
lights of all different colors that he loved so much
at Christmas. The strands stretched up to the
ceiling, creating the appearance of a tunnel of
lights. He was also aware of an assortment of
enticing scents wafting up from the kitchen. He
turned to JenniAnn. "This isn't just your and
Annabel's thing, is it?"
Grinning, JenniAnn shook her head. "C'mon!"
Taking her free hand, Andrew followed the woman down
the sparkling stairs. His face lit up when he
entered the living room and found Tess, Gloria, Henry,
Adam, Lady Beth, C.J., Catherine, Vincent, Jacob,
Shelby, and Annabel waiting for him with wide smiles.
"Happy birthday, Andrew!" they cried in unison.
Andrew laughed and began to hug each of them. "I
can't believe this! How did you all get this
"Well, there was a little work ahead of time while you
were out this week," Adam explained. "But we
also very wisely used the time JenniAnn and the kids
kept you distracted."
"That wasn't really breakfast! Just a snack!"
Annabel gleefully informed her uncle.
The angel chuckled. "Well, it was a very good
snack. But I suppose I can find room for
whatever you've all got prepared. It smells
wonderful." He lead the group into the kitchen
where he happily surveyed an array that ranged from
piping hot cinnamon rolls to biscuits and gravy to
cheddar grits to fruit salad to thick Belgian waffles
and fluffy French toast to eggs prepared in a variety
of ways. A variety of juices, teas, and coffees
were also arranged on the counter space.
"Birthday Boy goes first," Tess informed him, hugging
him then pushing him forward.
Andrew started to dish up his breakfast, grateful for
a few moments to gather his thoughts. He was
more than a little overwhelmed by just how much
thought had went into this celebration. Behind
him, his friends exchanged meaningful smiles, each
knowing Andrew was truly and immensely touched... all
without even knowing that this was only the beginning.
"Umm, so maybe we could all eat in the living room?"
Andrew suggested once everyone had their food and
beverage. "I don't think my table's big enough."
"Perhaps, since it is such a beautiful morning, we
might dine outside?" Vincent suggested.
The others nodded eagerly, glad that Vincent had taken
it upon himself to offer the solution. They
didn't trust themselves to do so without betraying
"That's a great idea!" Andrew readily agreed.
"I'll go check to see if leaves need to be brushed off
the picnic tables," Henry offered, dashing out of the
kitchen ahead of them. He went as quickly as
possible to the front door and, standing on the porch
and looking out, put his finger to his lips and waved
to the door Andrew would soon be exiting.
Back inside, Andrew was making his way through the
living room, still shaking his head. "I can't
believe all the work you all put into this. I'm
really, really... this is just... wow. Thank you
He came to a standstill when he stepped onto the
porch. Monica had been waiting for him there and
quickly took his plate and coffee and set them down,
knowing that he was about to drop them both.
"M-monica," Andrew greeted.
She beamed at him. "Happy birthday,
Andrew. A few of us wanted to come celebrate
with you. Forty's a bit of a milestone, you
Andrew was still in shock when his fellow angel hugged
him. "A few" was quite the understatement!
There were easily over a hundred people in the yard...
all smiling at him, all waiting to give him a hug and
extend their personal birthday wishes. He
spotted Rose and her husband who had journeyed in from
where he was stationed. Yva and Sir Sven had
returned from Germany to join in the festivities along
with Willy and Nigel in from London. Mick and
Beth were there with their two sons. Logan was
grinning beside them and enthusiastically waving to
Andrew. Josef had travelled from Russia.
Joe Maxwell and his wife and brother were
present. The angel of death was supremely and
happily surprised to glimpse Raquel and Nico. He
couldn't even imagine where they had come from!
And then there were so many Tunnel dwellers and even
some former Dyelanders that Andrew hadn't seen in well
over a decade. And so many angels! Andrew
lost count after twenty. And former assignments
that before that moment had no ties to Dyeland!
Andrew could make out some members of the Greene
family, Audrey Carmichael, Ben Mason and his brood,
and a handful of others... All there for him...
Behind the crowd, suspended between two large trees,
was the quilt Annabel had borrowed. Along the
sides, new squares were being added, each representing
an individual or an important event that had happened
in the years since the Dyelanders had first presented
it to Andrew on another birthday.
"You better go down to your admiring throng, buddy,"
Adam suggested, gently pushing the awed angel towards
the porch steps.
Nodding, Andrew walked onto the lawn and into the arms
of his friends.
September 20th, 2011
"I know I left an
extra camera battery somewhere..." Andrew mused as
he stepped into his room with JenniAnn and Rose at
his heels. He began searching drawers.
"It'd be a shame to not get some photos while so
many people are here."
"Did you carry a briefcase or bag of any kind on a
recent assignment that you may have put it in?"
"Oooh... is that your journal?" Rose asked,
pointing to a book sitting on Andrew's dresser.
Andrew glanced over his shoulder to see what Rose
was looking at. Confused, he moved towards
the dresser. "I've never seen that before
but it's beautiful." He picked up the book
and admired the leather cover with a labyrinth
design that perfectly matched the one on his
pocket watch... the pocket watch the Father had
given him after he'd gifted his previous watch to
Monica. The angel suddenly felt the same
warmth he had a few minutes before after he'd
blown out his candles. "Father?" he
JenniAnn and Rose exchanged surprised looks.
"Is that... His birthday present for you?" Rose
asked, eying the book in Andrew's hands with
fascination and awe.
"I think so." Andrew whole face lit
up. "A little while ago I had this feeling
that He... He was here. And look! It's
exactly like my pocket watch and..." He
opened the book and read the inscription
inside. "Happy birthday, son. I love
you and I have heard your prayer." He
glanced up at the ceiling, willing his love back
to the Father, then turned the page. He
realized it wasn't a book at all he was holding
but a photo album. And there was a series of
photos already inserted in the first few
pages. It took the angel of death a moment
to realize what he was looking at. He
glanced over at his quilt then back at the
book. "Look," he said quietly, holding the
album out to JenniAnn and Rose.
"Th-that's your quilt," JenniAnn recognized.
"But... it's way bigger."
"Why would we put white lace on your quilt?" Rose
asked, pointing to a section of one photo.
"I suppose if someone got married maybe it would
make sense to put some extra fabric from her veil
or something on your quilt. I assume you'd
be part of the wedding after all. But no one
has yet. Well, except Yva but that was long
before she met you."
"But look, there's the piece from my plum-colored
dress. And I can see part of Adam's
jersey. And that bit is from their AOD Band
jackets. And Rose you picked up that fabric
at St. Thomas, remember? But there are other
pieces I don't recog..." JenniAnn stopped
abruptly and blinked at the photo.
"Hey there, you okay?" Andrew squeezed JenniAnn's
shoulder when he saw her go pale.
"I recognize that. But it's not in your
quilt. Not really." The woman's finger
shook as she pointed at a neon swatch.
Andrew and Rose looked closer and noticed it was
comprised of colorful images of frogs.
"It's so you, though!" Rose declared.
"I do have it... It's from a baby's
sleeper. I saw it once shopping and thought
it was so cute so I couldn't resist and bought it
and I've been saving it... just in case. But
it's folded up in my hope chest and I never told
anyone." JenniAnn stared up at Andrew,
waiting for an explanation.
Once again he raised his eyes heavenward. He
closed them for a few moments and a lump formed in
his throat when the truth of the photographs'
origins came to him. He set the album down
and hugged JenniAnn and Rose to him. "That
is my quilt," he affirmed. "When I blew out
my candles... I prayed. I prayed that God
would keep you all in my life that He... He'd
never let us be parted. This is His
answer... part of it, anyway. Laja,
Rose... This is what my quilt is going to
look like some day. He would know. He
holds our whole lives in His hands: past, present,
future. This... it's our future."
As Andrew finished explaining the origins of the
gift to his friends, a dove appeared on his window
sill and cooed: one more birthday gift from the
Father... a sign of His love and of the hope of a
beautiful future to come.
newsletter is dedicated to John's studly and
cuddly awesomeness. LJA speaks for me in
the story. And I know she's speaking for
some of you all, too, cause of our Season
9-related conversations. ;-) John
was the best looking forty year old I ever set
eyes on! And one day... I'm gonna tell
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.)