|“We cannot really
love anybody with whom we never laugh.”
~~ Agnes Repplier
So March 17th would mark
12 years since Andrew wandered into Dyeland. So I wanted
to write a lil story about that. It's nothing
game-changing. Really just drabble. I'm still in a
"need Andrew to feel warm fuzzies" mode. Maybe going forth
I can get back to writing things with a bit of a bite.
Which brings me to...
For those who don't know,
JABB 349 was actually sent from Amory, MS. Due to the
unexpected nature of my travels, it wasn't the newsletter I
normally would have sent. The "State of the JABBers
Address" was due but I didn't have time to write it. So
that's below. I also typically send the "State of the
Dyelanders Address" by Andrew at the same time but I'm gonna
hold off on that for maybe the next issue. Because of the
writerly weaknesses of yours truly, all Andrew would really be
able to say was "People have been really clingy with me.
Also, they have been baking a lot for me. And buying me
Anyhow, have a good one!
The State of the JABBers Address
Hey there, everyone. So better late than never,
So if I had to summarize this year in JABB, I think I would
say it was a year of rebuilding and finding hope. It was
a year of discovering that even in times of grief, life can be
rich and joyful. New friends can be found, old
friendships can strengthen, you can learn astounding and
wonderful things about yourself and your abilities. And
through it all... God is there. Now and forever.
This time last year, the pain of John's death was still very
raw and ever-present for me. Today he's still
ever-present but the pain is lessening... some days not even
really there at all. I really hope the same is true for
all of you. Cause I know he wouldn't want us to be
perpetually sad. He'd want us to have fun and look for
those possibilities for goodness he talked about. I
think we're doing a darn good job on both counts. Sure,
we've cried. But we've also laughed and joked and played
There has been beauty in this year.
for the JABB site, I can't really think of any big news there
from the past year. I'm nearly finished with the TBAA
section of the Photo
Gallery as well as the Episode
Guide. That's a bittersweet thing for me.
But I also think having those done will allow me more time to
focus on other projects... like getting some photos of the
adorably clueless Andy Broom up. ;-) I do
sometimes feel bad that I seem to not have quite as much time
for JABB as I used to. However, I'm so glad that we have
many of you also participating on the Pay It
Forward in Memory of John Dye web site and Facebook
group. Both have truly been wonderful experiences.
Thank you to each and every one of you who have been a part of
One thing I do want to really, really try to do going forth is
get back to writing stories like "We Trust" and "House of the
Lord" and "Safe." I do miss writing stories about Andrew
as we saw him on Touched...
confronting those who do wrong, reaching out to those who need
compassion, and being utterly strong and utterly sensitive all
at once. But I admit I'm still something of a wuss on
that front. For a while there I just couldn't bear to
"see" Andrew in pain because, of course, it's always John I
see. However, John didn't shy away from taking a stand
in his life so I know I need to get back to tackling actual
issues soon. Andrew was not meant to be coddled
forever. The start of the story below is me trying to
baby step my way back to the older, more powerful
stories. Here's hoping!
When I do get back to writing, there is one theme that's been
inadvertently strung through so many of my previous stories
that I hope to continue. I never fully realized it until
this past year but taken as a whole, the Dyeland stories seem
to offer a promise that some day all the heartbreaking things
that happen will appear differently. There will be
resolution. All that's unsettled will click into
place. As the mantra that has run through my head so
often during these fourteen months whispers "Some day this
will all make sense." I believe that. I believe
that one day we will stand before God and know that every tear
we shed and every shattered scream of frustration was worth
something. And I believe that when that day comes for
me, I will hear that voice that right now I can only imagine
say "See, I told ya one day it would all make sense."
And then I will tell him that he was right. And I will
tell him that if I could go back to January 6th, 1996 and
visit that 13 year old about to turn Touched by an Angel on... I wouldn't stop
her. I would be silent and I would watch that fateful
evening unfold. Because he was always, always worth
it. This group is worth it.
May the peace that surpasses all understanding be with each of
you and with the Dyes. May we never forget that God's
love always surrounds us and that it's the same love that
surrounds those in Heaven and so we are never truly separated.
Thank you and God bless each of you.
sat at the worn kitchen table and stared at the calendar hung on
the wall. It read March 17th, 2012 in black letters, bold on
a stark white background.
"Twelve years..." he murmured. He raised his can of ginger
ale to a photograph stuck by magnet to the refrigerator. His
frozen friends smiled back at him from another world... a world he
felt very far from just then. The apartment where he was
temporarily residing held none of the charm, warmth, or laughter
For three weeks Andrew had been on this assignment. For
three weeks there had been phone calls and text messages and
emails with his friends teasing party details but always ending on
a wistful note... hoping it wouldn't be a party with the guest of
honor absent. With the 17th now arrived and, in fact, nearly
over; Andrew knew it would be exactly that. However, he was
not without his memories. Twelve years ago he had found
himself in the Fields of Gold, seduced into a clearing by the
notes of a song. And then...
It boggled the angel's mind when he really thought about it.
Twelve years ago JenniAnn had been seventeen and prone to shyly
sneaking glances at him. Now there was a binder... labelled
"Automotive Repair Records" to keep her from peeking... at his
house filled with his plans for her approaching thirtieth
birthday. Rose hadn't been in the Fields of Gold that first
day but if she had she would have only been ten. Yva and
Lady Beth had also been absent but, wherever they had been, would
have seemed his peers. Catherine and Vincent weren't
married. Nor were Mick and Beth. In fact, they hadn't
even re-met in March of 2000. Neither Shelby, Gloria, nor
Jacob had been born. Adam had been an infrequent but
dependable presence. Andrew hadn't seen Henry or Eli in
years but he had been working closely with Monica and Tess,
dividing his time between casework and angel of death
duties. Usually loving it... but sometimes wondering why he
felt like the odd man out. There had been no
Lulu, no Serendipity, no Jolly Green.
But always there had been the Father. And Andrew knew the
Father was with him in that moment, in that kitchen with its
peeling paint and a stove that only sometimes worked. The
Father was with him as he waited and prayed. The Father was
with him as he'd made his way to the shared laundry room earlier,
hoping to catch the eye of the meek woman named Lily who shared
the apartment above his with her husband. Andrew tried to
talk to her many times, to befriend her... so that she would know
she had someone she could trust, someone who could help her get
away from the screaming and the hitting. That morning she
had smiled at him. That alone made his separation from his
friends worth it. Maybe he would get through to her before
it was too late. And even if he didn't... he would do the
Father's work. He would take Lily some place safe, some
place filled with love... whether on this side or the other.
Andrew held no self-pity. He didn't resent being away from
Dyeland. He was proud of his work, humbled by it, blessed,
grateful. And yet... the angel missed his
As Andrew mused over this; the still, small voice informed him
that he wasn't meant to starve. The stack of cash that
appeared on the table alongside a menu was all the angel needed to
get on his feet and make his way to McRonald's, a teasingly named
burger joint across the street. The establishment wasn't
exactly four star but Andrew had eaten there several times in the
last weeks and knew the food was good. He patiently waited
in line then ordered a Coke, double cheeseburger, and fries.
When the cashier handed him his food, she was smiling rather
"Here ya go, darlin'. No charge. Someone's already
seen to that."
Andrew blinked. "Sorry?"
"Someone paid for your food. She's still here if you're
interested... Sweet, little thing. Blonde."
Andrew blushed as the woman continued to look up at him with her
teasing grin. "Well, I... I mean... I should say thank you
to her." He stuck his hand into his pocket.
"Here. Since I won't need this, maybe put it to the next
order. And, umm, where is the lady who..."
"By the window. Blue hat."
"Thank you." Andrew smiled and turned around, scanning the
restaurant's windows. Framed by the middle one, a woman sat
alone wearing a big, floppy blue hat and sunglasses. She was
staring out the window, into the setting sun, which made it
difficult for Andrew to take in her features. He
sighed. He really wasn't in the mood to go into the old
"Thank you, I'm really touched but I'm not interested"
spiel. Nonetheless, it would be very wrong to leave without
saying thank you. Drawing in a deep breath, he approached.
"Ma'am?" he called when he was a yard from her table.
The woman began to giggle.
The laughter struck Andrew as terribly and tauntingly
familiar. He lifted his hand to his eyes, trying to see her.
"Good gosh!" she cried. "I'm not even thirty yet and already
with the ma'am... I think I'd rather you stick with..."
"Yes. That." JenniAnn grinned and stood up, hugging
Andrew with all her might. "It's been three weeks!"
"Believe me, I know." Andrew briefly set his chin on her
hair. "Happy anniversary."
"Happy anniversary, Andrew. Twelve years..."
Aware of the fact that other guests were staring and that JenniAnn
would soon notice and be flustered, Andrew gestured for her to
take a seat. Once she had, he sat across from her. "I
know. I was thinking about that before I came down
here. And, I admit, I was feeling a little lonely and like
all of you were very far away and..." The angel
paused. "Laja, what are you doing in Arizona?"
JenniAnn idly stirred the milkshake in front of her. "Oh...
ya know... trying to visit all fifty states..."
"All right, all right. When you started emailing us from the
library... well... we tracked the IP address. And here you
are in Phoenix and Cliff and Daisy just started their vacation
here yesterday and Cliff suggested..." The woman lowered her
voice. "He suggested maybe... since he was here anyhow...
he'd install a portal and the timing was just so perfect and... I
Andrew clasped her hand across the table. "I missed you,
too. And I'm glad you're here."
JenniAnn beamed. "Good. I'm glad you're not upset but
now... eat. I didn't buy that food just so it could get
"Thank you for this." The angel obediently
removed his burger and fries from the bag. "I'm
also very grateful I don't have to ummm..."
"Let me down gently? I bet you get a lotta practice with
that," JenniAnn teased.
Andrew glared at her in mock annoyance then laughed and shook his
head. "I wouldn't say a lot. Hey, aren't you going to
"Nope. Got my milkshake. I'm good."
"Not even some fries..." Grinning, Andrew waved the box in
front of her. "They're curly and perfectly seasoned."
"You are way too good at the temptation thing, ya know.
Rather unseemly, really..." JenniAnn had to admit they
looked good and it occurred to her Andrew may have simply grown
tired of solo meals. "All right... just a few."
"How about some of my burger?"
JenniAnn turned up her nose at the greasy bun. "Thanks but
ya know... I think you can handle that yourself."
As they ate, JenniAnn filled Andrew in on the goings on back in
Dyeland. Then when the last fry had been eaten and the last
gulps of milkshake and Coke drunk, Andrew checked his pocket
"I really need to be getting back to my apartment," he
explained reluctantly as he tossed all their trash into his paper
bag. "Maybe I could walk you back to where you need to go
to, you know, get back."
JenniAnn began to trace the grain of the table, seeming to not
hear his offer. "So... is where you're staying
nice?" she asked.
"Oh, well, you know, it's not home but... sure." Andrew
nodded. "It's nice enough. Maybe not much to look at
JenniAnn smiled up at him. "That's good." She held his
gaze for a moment then returned her attention to the table.
"Yeah..." Andrew began to fidget with a sugar packet,
wondering why JenniAnn wasn't making a move to leave.
"Well, I don't want your Boss to get upset and ban me from such
impromptu visits again." She cast him a conspiratorial
smile. "You go on back. Cliff and Daisy said they'd
come pick me up as soon as I called." JenniAnn withdrew her
cell phone from her pocket.
Andrew ran his hand through his hair. The idea of leaving
his friend alone didn't thrill him. He supposed the
restaurant was safe enough but the neighborhood had more than its
share of problems. If they were back in Dyeland he would
have breezily asked her back to his place. But they weren't
in Dyeland where everyone understood the nature of their
relationship. And if other tenants saw them and made snide
comments... No. None of that mattered. He wasn't
leaving JenniAnn behind. The angel shook his head.
"No. Come back with me. You can wait for Cliff and
Daisy at the apartment."
JenniAnn's face lit up. "Cool! Thanks!"
Andrew smiled. It wasn't as if he'd mind the company.
After leaving McRonald's, the two crossed the street and entered
the apartment building. As they trudged up the stairs after
seeing the elevator was once again broken, something very curious
occurred to Andrew. He'd been so shocked and happy to see
JenniAnn in the restaurant that he hadn't fully considered the
oddness of her appearance. Even if she and their friends had
tracked down the city where he was residing... how had she known
to pay for his dinner at one particular restaurant at one
particular time on one particular day?
Raising an eye brow, Andrew studied the woman when he opened the
stairwell door for her. "Laja, how did you know when and
where to pay for my dinner? And your shake. It was
nearly full when I arrived. It didn't seem like you'd been
sitting there long... waiting."
JenniAnn shrugged. "Oh, well, ya know... 7:30's kinda
standard for dinner."
"But how did you know where I'd be? I could have been at one
of several restaurants... and how did you know I wouldn't just
stay in tonight? Order pizza or..." Andrew's voice
trailed off as he realized he wasn't leading her through the
hall. She was in front of him and walking straight to his
apartment, number 317... as if she knew. "Laja, what's..."
Stopping in front of the door, JenniAnn knocked.
"Laja, there's no one in there to ans..." Andrew tilted his
head in confusion as he heard a bolt slide.
No longer able to contain her amusement, JenniAnn erupted into
giggles. "Oh, there totally is someone in there to let us
in... many someones, actually."
Andrew remained frozen and gaped as the door knob turned.
A cry of "Happy anniversary!" erupted as the door flew open and
the angel of death found himself facing four more of his friends,
all of whom were smiling.
"But... I..." the angel stammered. "How?"
Adam stepped forward. "Did you really think the Father was
going to let you celebrate alone?" he asked as he clapped his
friend on the shoulder. He leaned in. "Better yet, do
you really think he'd leave *me* to deal with this lot on your
anniversary with you away? I only have two shoulders to cry
"Hey!" Rose shot Adam a Look then laughed and moved to hug a still
stunned Andrew. "I'm so glad we could be here with you!"
"It just wasn't the same celebrating without you." Lady Beth
stepped forward for her own hug. "So when Monica showed up
and told us the Father was permitting us to be here... well, we
jumped at the chance."
Andrew spun around to face JenniAnn. "So that's how you
"Yup! Monica told me exactly where you'd be when. My
job was to keep you out of here long enough for the others to file
in, do a lil decorating, get the food set out... I hope you left
room, by the way."
"I... uh, sure, but... what exactly were you planning to do if I
hadn't asked you back here?"
Yva laughed. "Andrew... think about it. JenniAnn told
you that she intended to sit... alone... in a strange
restaurant... in a strange town... at night... Was there
ever a chance you were actually going to leave her there?"
Andrew smiled sheepishly. "Of course not."
"So the plan was full-proof. Now don't just stand there in
the doorway, come on!" Yva hugged his arm and led him
further into the apartment.
Once past the little cluster that Adam, Rose, Lady Beth, and Yva
had formed; Andrew saw that scattered through out the living room
and the kitchen were Monica, Tess, C.J., Shelby, Henry, Gloria,
Owen, Josephine, and Violeta. The latter jumped up from the
couch where she had been sitting and dashed to her supervisor.
"This is my first surprise party! They're really quite
delightful!" she observed.
Chuckling, Andrew embraced her. "They are, aren't
they?" Then he made the rounds, hugging and greeting each of
his friends... and noticing how much less shabby and cold the
The group dug into the assortment of snacks and began to reminisce
about the twelve years that had passed since Andrew's arrival in
Dyeland. Adam was midway through a spirited retelling of
Andrew's last haircut, at the hands of JenniAnn, when there was a
knock on the door.
"Did you invite someone else?" Andrew asked the crowd.
Everyone looked at each other, checking, but shook their heads.
"Well," Rose explained as Andrew went to answer, "others were
invited but not everyone could make it. Those who said they
could are already here."
Curious, Andrew checked through the peek hole in the door.
He felt a surge of happiness when he saw who had knocked and
quickly unlocked and opened the door. "Hello, Lily!" he
Further back in the living room, Andrew's friends craned to see
who the mysterious woman was.
"That's his assignment, babies," Tess explained in a hushed tone,
pulling Rose and Owen back from the door where they were peeking
into the hallway.
"What can I do for you?" the angel asked the woman standing shyly
in the entry.
"Well... I.... Oh..." She noticed Owen just before Tess
yanked his arm. "You have company. This can wait."
Andrew quickly shook his head. "I do. But the more the
merrier!" He stepped aside and waved her in.
"Really I just came to see if I could borrow a cup of flour.
I don't mean to stay."
"Oh. Sure. I can get that." Andrew waved for her
to follow him and headed for the kitchen.
"No. Please just forget about it." Lily shook her head
and stepped further back into the hall. "Go back to your
guests. It was silly, anyway. I... I was just feeling
blue and thought some cake might cheer me up but... really, I
don't need it."
Andrew stepped nearer and caught the woman's hand, gently holding
it in both of his own. "Lily, I can tell you're upset and if
getting you a cup of flour is gonna help with that... I'm gonna
Touched by the tenderness in both the gesture and Andrew's
expression, a few tears leaked from Lily's eyes. "All
right. Thank you."
Andrew smiled and again headed towards the kitchen. "So what
kind of cake are you baking?"
"My favorite and the same kind my mother used to make for me on
every one of my birthdays until she passed away: red velvet.
I thought if I had some... maybe it would seem like she was with
me. I didn't want to be alone tonight. Jake's working
the night shift but even if he were there..." Lily
The angel turned to face her. "I can get you that flour if
you want, Lily. But I think I have something better."
He stepped into the kitchen and returned with the red velvet cake
Lady Beth had brought along. "Red velvet happens to be my
favorite, too. I'd really love it if you'd spend the evening
with us. My friends are really great people. And they
love making new friends. And we have plenty of cake!"
"I just don't want to intrude," Lily responded shaking her head
but Andrew saw her cast a longing look to the other room where he
could hear the gang laughing.
"You're invited. It's not an intrusion." Andrew set
his hand on her arm. "Please stay, Lily."
The woman half-smiled and shook her head. "Thank you.
Before Lily could finish, Monica stepped out of the living room
and into the hallway. She smiled when she saw the
newcomer. "Ah! Another guest! How lovely!
The more the merrier." She held out her hand and warmly
shook the woman's. "Hullo! My name's Monica."
"Lily. I was just leaving."
"Ah well! Now that's a shame. We were just hoping to
start up a game of Charades and have an uneven number for teams."
"You sure you're not up for Charades and cake, Lily?" Andrew
checked with his best, warmest smile.
"It really would help us. Our friend Tess volunteered to sit
the game out in the name of fairness but she does love it so,"
Lily looked to the two angels then the living room entry and back
again. A genuine smile began to form. "Oh... well...
if you're really sure you wouldn't mind my staying..."
"Lily, we'd be thrilled if you did," Andrew stressed.
"Then I would be thrilled to stay," the woman finally agreed,
smiling at both angels.
"Great! I'll introduce you to everyone!" Beaming,
Andrew returned to the living room with Lily, Monica, and the
cake. As the evening progressed, he was pleased to see Lily
open up and enjoy herself with the others. Better yet,
during a break from the game he overheard Gloria excitedly telling
her about the women's resource center where she was working.
When Lily asked Gloria for her card, the angel of death couldn't
have been more relieved. And he couldn't imagine feeling any
more blessed. The change from only four hours before when
he'd sat alone in the kitchen could hardly have been more
dramatic. The Father, unfailing as ever, had given him time
with his friends and a chance to truly reach Lily and surround her
with people who represented all the caring and compassion just
waiting for her out in the world.
When he went to the kitchen to start up some tea, Andrew
approached the window and looked up at the stars. "Thank You
for these past twelve years, Father. Thank You for
tonight. Thank You for never leaving me or forsaking
me. I love You," he prayed. The angel smiled as a dove
alighted on the ledge and cooed.
This newsletter is dedicated
to John's voice. I hope I haven't used that already but
even if I have... oh well. Because I love his
voice. And if I had to have someone's voice stuck in my
head... well, I'm glad it's his.