“We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.”
~~ Agnes Repplier

Hi all,

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 clothes."  ;-)

Anyhow, have a good one!

God bless,

The State of the JABBers Address

Hey there, everyone.  So better late than never, right?  :-) 

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 games
and created.  There has been beauty in this year.

As 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 this year.

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.

Twelve Years

Andrew 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 of Dyeland.

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 friends. 

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 impishly. 

"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 missed you."

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 cold."

"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 eat?"

"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 watch.

"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 but comfortable."

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.  "C'mon."

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 on."

"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 knew..."

"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 apartment seemed. 

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 greeted warmly.

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 get it."

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 involuntarily shuddered.

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.  Really.  But..."

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," Monica explained.

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.

The End

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.


JABB 351

(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.)