"His wings are gray and trailing,
Azrael, Angel of Death.
And yet the souls that Azrael brings
Across the dark and cold,
Look up beneath those folded wings,
And find them lined with gold."
~~ from Azrael by Robert Gilbert Walsh

Hi all,

So originally this newsletter was supposed to be a lighthearted story about going through Andrew's mementos during a storm.  But then that got pushed back cause I needed more time.  Then it was supposed to be the story you see below coupled with some funnier, shorter pieces so you could choose which mood best suited you.  But then I ran short on time for that, too.  So now it's only the story that resulted from me watching way too much CNN.  Thus, a disclaimer... it's not much fun and it is "ripped from the headlines" so if that's not your cup of tea then hopefully the next newsletter will be more what you're looking for
.  We'll be celebrating our anniversary so one would hope it would be happy!  If that hasn't scared you off... I do think this story is a good look at some of the friendships in Dyeland and an examination of what it would actually be like to be friends with an angel of death.  I'm sure it wouldn't always be sweetness and light and giggliness.

Also... big news!  The DVD release date for Season 5 of Touched by an Angel was mentioned a while back (July 24th if ya need a reminder) but we now also have word that Season 6 will be out on September 25th!  So awesome! 

And I can't remember if I ever shared about this here so if I did then my apologies for the repeat.  For one of my random acts of kindness for Pay It Forward in Memory of John Dye, I opened an Etsy store.  All proceeds will go to charities designated by John's family.  In addition, each of the products celebrates some aspect of John's career so it's been a lot of fun making the items!  If you're looking for Doc Hock-inspired earrings or angels, please check it out.  I will consider special orders.  Thanks!

Finally, a happy 4th of July to our American members and a belated happy Canada Day to our Canadian folks.

God bless,

Being There

Spring 2012

JenniAnn stared at the coffee pot as the last few drips of the brew fell.  A world away Andrew was in the midst of hell on earth... and she was making coffee.  Her right hand shook as she grabbed the handle.  She willed it to steady, grabbed a mug, and carried the coffee to where her friends waited in the parlor.

"Refills?" she asked dully. 

Lady Beth and Yva nodded.

Once she had finished pouring, JenniAnn set the mug she'd been carrying near a bulky recliner.  After staring at it for a few moments, she reclaimed her seat at the table.

Yva, Lady Beth, C.J., and Violeta took turns glancing at the green mug with the letter "A" emblazoned on it in gold.  They each wondered for how long it would sit empty.

"This is really delicious," C.J. commented in an attempt to break the silence.  "Did you add cinnamon?"

JenniAnn nodded.  "Yep.  I'm glad you..."

The four women and the angel of death in training all froze when the doorbell sounded. 

Violeta began to rise.  "Maybe he's back and..."

Briefly closing her eyes against the false hope, JenniAnn shook her head.  "Andrew wouldn't knock.  He has a spare key and knows he can come in whenever he likes.  I'll go see who it is."

The group deflated as their host left the room.

Once JenniAnn had made her way to the entry, she glimpsed Rose waiting on the stoop.

"What's going on?" the newcomer questioned
, bypassing pleasantries, as soon as JenniAnn opened the door.  "I'm sorry I wasn't here earlier.  Aunt Josephine needed someone to run errands with her and I'd forgotten my cell and then when I got home I forgot to check it and..."  The young woman paused when she stepped into the lighted hallway and got a better look at her friend.  "You've been crying."

JenniAnn shrugged.  "A little.  Violeta showed up about five hours ago, pretty distraught."

"Andrew..."  Rose's face went ashen.

"He's all right just...  The Father wouldn't let Violeta go on his most recent assignment with him."

"So she's upset about Him not thinking she's ready for it?"

"Not exactly.  She knows she's not ready for it."  JenniAnn stared at the floor.  She nervously spun her Claddagh ring around her finger.  "Rose, Andrew's in Syria.  There... there's another massacre happening.  Right now."

"Not again...  Does Violeta know if... are there a lot of children involved this time, too?"

"She doesn't really have any details.  She's not even spoken to Andrew.  So we've just been waiting.  The other girls are in the parlor.  Want to come sit?"

Mutely, Rose nodded and followed JenniAnn.  When they entered the parlor, the others all hugged the newcomer. 

"Why do you have the baby monitor out?" Rose asked, noticing it in front of JenniAnn's seat.

"Shelby is staying over.  She fell asleep before Violeta arrived so she doesn't know..."  JenniAnn's voice drifted off.

"She can't know," Yva stressed. 

"No.  Not about this.  But have any of you given much thought to when...  I mean she's very close to Andrew.  I don't think we have too much longer before she starts picking up on when things are difficult," Lady Beth pointed out.

"She has sometimes already," C.J. clarified.  "Remember the nightmare she had when Andrew was homeless?"

"Maybe I shouldn't have said anything to any of you..."  Violeta shook her head and moved to stand in front of the fireplace.  Despite the summer heat, everyone had felt chilled that evening prompting JenniAnn to light a fire. 

Yva stood beside her and set a hand on her shoulder.  "You're one of us now, Violeta.  You care about Andrew and you want what's best for him.  Like us.  And if he comes back here... it'd be easier for him if we knew.  And you've also given us the opportunity to pray for him and for his assignments."

Violeta smiled gratefully but remained fixated on the fire.  "It would have been easier for him to have someone with him.  But I know... I can't blame the Father for not sending me.  I couldn't handle it."

"Don't do that, Violeta," JenniAnn pleaded.  "Don't put that on yourself.  Because I think... I think you're wrong.  I think we're all in the best place we can be for Andrew.  He's so protective and so much wants to keep his friends from pain.  In your case... since he's your supervisor... he's going to have to let you experience some things that will be difficult and frightening and heartbreaking.  But not... not cruelty and violence so..."  She shook her head.  "Not yet.  It would hurt him more to have you there and to see your pain and your confusion."

"JenniAnn is right.  It's been a tough lesson for us all to learn."  Despite the somber mood, Rose smiled sheepishly.  "We always want to fight his battles for him and be at his side to face every terrible thing.  But we can't.  And he'd only blame himself for not being able to shield us.  The Father knows what He's doing."

"That's right," Yva agreed.  "And we should be grateful to Him for the times He *has* let us be with Andrew when he needed help and friendship."

"And for the times He hasn't let us... like now," Lady Beth added.

Violeta at last turned from the blaze and reclaimed the rocking chair she had abandoned.  "Do you all do this a lot?  Sit around... waiting?"

C.J. shook her head.  "It's not really often we know exactly where Andrew is and what he's dealing with during assignments."

"But I think we've all spent more than a few nights up late... watching terrible breaking news unfold on TV and wondering..."  JenniAnn was staring into her coffee cup but snapped her head up after some reflection.  "We never, ever regret it.  I'd take countless sleepless nights over not knowing Andrew, not caring about Andrew.  He's worth every moment of anxiety, of fear, of grief.  Because when he is here.."

"The joy and the hope he brings balances it out?" Violeta guessed.

JenniAnn smiled with a nod.  "And then some."

"That's how I feel.  There have been a couple times I thought about asking the Father to let me just stay in Records because the assignments as an angel of death... even with Andrew's diligent guidance... were so difficult.  But then I'd see the way Andrew spoke to his assignments... all that gentleness.  And that connection..."   Violeta's cheeks reddened and she cringed.  "I have to admit I thought more than once as I read about cases and filed away reports that humans were just... well, messy.  I don't mean dirty!  Although, well, sometimes...  Never mind.  I just mean... emotions aren't pure for you like they are in Heaven.  People can love and hate the same person.  Or say they love someone yet do something incredibly hurtful to them.  Or say they hate someone and yet treat them better than those they claim to love.  It made no sense to me and I didn't much feel the need to endear myself to them... you.  But especially when I read Andrew's reports... what his assignments had to say about how he made them feel... understood, treasured... loved.  I... I started to want to make them feel that way, too.  And I stopped seeing them... you so negatively.  I started to see them as Andrew does, I think."

Rose smiled.  "I think so, too.  In the few months we've known you, we've all seen you change, Violeta.  When you first came, back in October..."  She paused and looked over at JenniAnn who had shared her dismay when a very priggish Violeta had first appeared in Serendipity on Halloween.  JenniAnn shrugged her permission.  "We totally thought you were too prim and proper and wouldn't be supportive enough of 'our Andrew.'  But we were really, really wrong."

Violeta smirked.  "It's fine.  I think... I know I was more than a little wrong in my assessments of you, too.  Although I do sometimes still wonder...  Maybe it's not my business."

"No.  I think it is.  What is it?" Lady Beth prodded.

"I only mean it's not like there are scads of humans out there re-arranging their lives to accommodate the frenetic schedule of an angel of death.  I came here five hours ago and told JenniAnn what was going on and all of you came running just as soon as you could.  Why?"

"We're only missing some sleep.  Like that's important!" Rose joked, trying to inject some airiness into the conversation.

Violeta smiled.  "True enough.  But I have a feeling the same thing would have happened if it were noon."

"I think we all wanted to pray for Andrew and send him loving thoughts," Yva responded.

C.J. nodded.  "And knowing what we do about what he's facing and what's happening to the people he's with... it was easier to do that together than apart."

"Definitely," Lady Beth agreed.

"Plus, we know that when Andrew has free time... even if he'd made plans for his own enjoyment... he'd drop everything if he knew one of us needed him.  And he has.  What good would we be as friends if we didn't reciprocate even if it does mean possibly pulling an all-nighter and drinking this fabulous coffee JenniAnn has provided us with."  After taking a sip, Rose realized their hostess had gone silent.  "JenniAnn, you okay?"

The blonde woman who had been staring at Andrew's mug promptly turned her focus to her friend.  "I was just thinking about my answer to Violeta's question.  And I was listening to your answers, too.  I agree with them all but also..."

"Yes?" Lady Beth coaxed gently.  "No one's going to tell Andrew anything you say unless you want us to."

"He knows already.  He just doesn't like it exactly.  I mean that's what he says but..."

"Typical man..." Lady Beth muttered.

The comment prompted a smile from JenniAnn who then felt more at ease.  "I care about Andrew... typical man-ness notwithstanding... but for me it's also...  It just helps to be there for him.  It feels like I'm chipping away at a debt so massive that I'll never fully repay it."

Violeta frowned.  "I can't imagine Andrew liking that someone felt indebted to him."

"He doesn't, like I said.  In his mind, any debt that ever existed was long wiped out all the previous times we've been there for him.  But we're talking about someone who has been, sometimes unwittingly but no less powerfully, emotionally protecting me since I was four!" JenniAnn exclaimed.  "Every terrible news story or gut-wrenching historical account I've ever read or heard... it's still terribly painful to imagine but at least when I do imagine it... he's there.  Or someone very like him or Adam or Henry or Eli... or now like you, Violeta.  And that's huge.  Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps me from wanting to go live in a cave and have done with creation!  So if advance knowledge of an atrocity and a little lost sleep is going to in any way help him when he's actually... h-he's there in the midst of that atrocity... then I will take it.  Because we'll never, ever be even but at least I'll come closer."

"Hear, hear," C.J. chimed in.

"Yeah, he can like it or lump it but I feel the same," Rose agreed while Lady Beth and Yva nodded.

"I keep thinking of the news reports from the previous massacre," the latter started, her voice quiet and ragged with emotion.  "Those little children.  And imagining what their parents felt...  If not for Andrew, we wouldn't know about this one right now.  But we would have woken up to the news.  At least this way we know that..."  Yva looked to Lady Beth for help when her voice cracked.

Lady Beth patted Yva's shoulder and continued.  "We know that whatever they faced, whatever their last moments on earth were like... they had God with them and they had one of His angels.  And we know that angel... he did everything... and gave everything he could to them.  All the love and care and gentleness that Andrew carries inside of him... they have that.  Right now."

"And he'll bring them to a place with no more fear or pain or hatred," C.J. finished. 

Just as the women were all wiping at tears, the baby monitor came to life.  The sound erupting from it simultaneously broke the hearts of those listening and brought them peace.  Andrew was humming "Tender Shepherd," the tune wavering at points.

Violeta set her hand on JenniAnn's.  "I think you better go check on him."

JenniAnn bolted to her feet.  Just before she exited the parlor, she turned to her friends.  "Why me?  We all want to see him."

"You live here," Violeta reasoned.  "He assumes you're here.  He may not know the rest of us are.  And he might not be able to handle the whole group of us right now.  You be the judge of that."

Yva nodded.  "We'll wait here for a while until he either comes down here or we get word from you to leave.  Just call later with an explanation in that case.  No matter how late."

"We won't sleep until we know he's all right," Lady Beth added.

Swallowing a lump in her throat, JenniAnn nodded and made her way up the stairs.  For a few moments, she hovered in the doorway of the guestroom where Shelby was sleeping and watched. 

Andrew was kneeling on the floor beside the girl's bed.  He'd given up humming and seemed to be praying.  When his shoulders began to shake, JenniAnn approached.  She knelt beside him and hugged his arm.

"I... I don't know what I would do if... if anyone ever tried t-to hurt her," the angel whispered, barely audible to JenniAnn even though she was so near.

Knowing that he must be thinking of the parents who had faced such a horrible thought in their final moments, the woman began to sob.

Alarmed, and concerned she would awaken the sleeping child, Andrew steered JenniAnn into the hallway and hugged her.  "Laja... I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have said that.  It's a terrible thing to think about and I shouldn't have put it in your mind.  I didn't even plan to be here but I guess the Father knew...  I needed to see our Shel.  I... I needed a glimpse of a happy... unharmed child.  My last assignment it w-was..."  He blinked but it did nothing to keep fresh tears from trickling down his cheeks.

"I... I know," JenniAnn interrupted without thinking as she tried to brush away the hair that was plastered to Andrew's face.

Andrew's expression became clouded with confusion.  "What do you mean?"

"Violeta... she was upset.  She... she knew she couldn't handle Syria but she didn't like that you'd gone alone and so... she told me and..."  When she felt Andrew flinch, JenniAnn grabbed his hand and pulled him down to sit with her on the top stair.  "Don't be upset with her.  Please.  She needed to talk."

Andrew dragged his free hand through his hair and sighed.  "I'm not upset.  Not with her.  I understand why Violeta told you but Laja... you shouldn't have had to know.  How long have you?"

"About five hours.  I would have tomorrow anyway, Andrew," JenniAnn added hastily when the angel began to shake his head in dismay.  "We all would have."

Andrew's eye brows jerked upward.  "All?"

Emboldened by the knowledge that the Father had sent Andrew to Willowveil following his assignment, obviously for a reason, JenniAnn decided to tell him the full truth.  "We wanted to pray together.  For you and for those people.  So... Yva, C.J., Rose, Lady Beth, Violeta, and I gathered in the parlor.  They're still there but they didn't want you to feel you had to come down if you... I mean if you just want to go Home or be alone... w-we understand."  Once finished, JenniAnn gazed up at Andrew with some anxiety, not knowing what his response would be.  She desperately hoped he'd stay but tried to keep it from showing.

The angel turned to look down the staircase.

JenniAnn choked back another sob as she studied Andrew's face.  If he was trying to mask his wishes then he was doing a very poor job of it.  Gratitude emanated from every pore.  He would never have asked them to be there with him on that dark night but it was obvious to JenniAnn that the angel had wanted exactly that.

Andrew pulled the woman back into a hug.  "Let's go downstairs, Laja." 

Once he and JenniAnn had entered the parlor, Andrew was promptly swept up in a series of hugs from each of his friends while JenniAnn contentedly filled his coffee mug.  No one asked Andrew any questions.  They knew he needed time to process it all.  There was also nothing they could say that would lessen the pain of what the angel had seen and heard.  All they could do was stay with him.

Around 3 AM, Andrew insisted his friends all get some sleep.  Even Violeta's energy was waning.  It was much too late for any of them to head home so
JenniAnn ensured that her guests were all comfortably settled for the night.  Before turning in herself, she checked one last time on Andrew.  He had moved to the TV room and was watching one of the 24 hour news stations.  JenniAnn knew exactly what he was doing: waiting for the world to catch up on what he knew and praying something would be done to keep it from happening yet again.

"Thank you," Andrew called.

Surprised, JenniAnn re-entered the room.

"I saw your reflection in the TV," the angel explained as he pressed the mute button.  "Thank you for calling everyone together.  And I need to thank you all for... well, just being here."

JenniAnn took a seat on the couch.  "You're welcome.  I think we've all learned that sometimes that's all you need... even more than a listening ear.  I get that more now than I used to.  I think all us girls do.  And you... you've learned to let us be there."

"I have," Andrew agreed with a smile.

"I think... I think we're actually functional now," JenniAnn concluded, somewhat dismayed.

Andrew laughed.  "You know, I think you're right.  I guess we won't be making it onto any talk shows any time soon.  But... even humans in functional relationships need sleep so..."  He glanced at his pocket watch and then back at JenniAnn with a raised brow.

JenniAnn was extremely tired.  She was sure she looked it so offered no argument.  "G'night, Andrew."

"Good night, JenniAnn."  He squeezed her hand.  "Hey, I'm making breakfast for everyone tomorrow."

The woman opened her mouth to protest but decided against it.  Andrew had to be allowed that.  "I'll look forward to it."  She moved to stand and leave the room but then sat back down.  "Andrew?"


"Thank you." 

Andrew nodded.  "There was love and bravery and selflessness even... even there.  It was an honor to witness that.  But... I hope..."  Tears welled in his eyes.  "I hope I never see it again.  Not like that."

JenniAnn hugged him tightly.  "I know.  I hope you don't, either.  I hope no one does."

Soon after, when JenniAnn had gone to her room, Andrew watched as the early morning anchor broke the news he already knew.  He watched the segment alone save for a snow white dove perched on the windowsill, its coos a gentle reminder of the angel's Home and the One who bestowed lasting peace on all who entered there.

The End

This issue is dedicated to John's integrity.  He cared about what was going on around him and in the world at large.  He cared about not putting anything out into the world that would incite harm.   When harm was cast upon innocents, John spoke up.  I miss hearing his voice on TV.  I don't, of course, miss the tragedies that he would speak about.  But as new tragedies unfold, I really do miss hearing his thoughts.  It's not as if anything he said made it all better.  School shootings were still devastating, racism was still ugly, and hate crimes were still heart-wrenching.  But in simply hearing from him; I felt like there was hope.  We won't ever see him on CNN or whatnot again.  But I can hear his voice in my heart and I can look to his integrity for inspiration.  We all can.  I'm grateful for that.


JABB 359

(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.)