"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."
~~ Kahlil Gibran, On Children

Hi all,

Firstly, happy St. Patrick's Day!  To those celebrating, I hope you have a joyful, fun, and safe time!

It's been a pretty rough news week which left me not quite sure what I wanted to do with this newsletter.  I ended up deciding I just wanted to write something sweet, hopeful, and cute.  So in keeping with that and in honor of the day, I thought we'd check in with a couple of Irish Friends.  This is a story that I originally envisioned a few years ago and never got around to finishing.  So it's been reworked to feature Marco and Isolde instead of Mick and Beth (although they get mentioned).  I think I like this result better!

God bless,


The Test

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

"So where ya headed to?" JenniAnn asked as she watched Andrew get ready for the day ahead.

The angel of death turned back to where JenniAnn remained curled up in their bed.  He felt a momentary pang of regret that he couldn't rejoin her.  It was only 5:47 and his human form was rebelling at the early hour.  Still... this was an important assignment and one he thought he'd enjoy.

"Your neck of the woods, actually.  I'll be dropping in and out over the next several months.  My assignment is a man whose wife has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I'm not sure how it will go for her.  But I'm supposed to be there for him.  A friendly co-worker.  Someone to talk with, lean on."

JenniAnn frowned.

"I'm sorry for him.  And for his wife.  Do they have children?"

"A nine year old girl and a thirteen year old boy."

"Wow..."  JenniAnn heaved a sigh.  "I'll pray for them.  And for you... that you'll have the words to comfort the fellow."  She left the bed and embraced Andrew.  "I'm sure you will," she whispered into his right ear.

Andrew kissed her cheek.

"Thank you.  I hope so."  He sighed and buried his face in her hair for a few moments before speaking again.  "And what are your plans for the day?"

"I don't know actually.  I think I'll take the kids Below for a while.  Owen's been wanting to do a portrait of Avi and Vincent.  So as long as Avi's his usual, placid self... maybe he can sit for that?"

"Belle's gonna get jealous."

JenniAnn nodded.

"I'll just have to remind her that she already had her portrait with Appa painted... and also that there aren't too many kids lucky enough to have their portrait painted at all.  I mean all I've got up until digital photos came around are a precious few Polaroids with Vincent."

Andrew chuckled.

"Good luck explaining Polaroids to Belle.  She'll probably think they were cool and then get jealous of you having those!"

JenniAnn laughed.

"Probably so...  And they really were cool.  Anyway... dunno after that.  I'm kinda hoping Catherine and Vincent might offer to watch the kids so I can take Yonah for a ride.  It's been a long time."

"Well, if they don't, I'll be around tomorrow.  I'll take care of the kids and you can go for a ride before the party."

JenniAnn kissed Andrew's temple.

"Thanks.  Now...  Lunch plans?"

Andrew grinned.

"I was going to pack a lunch to take..."

"I'll do that!" JenniAnn offered. 

"I was hoping you might offer..."  Andrew smiled at the remembrance of little love notes tucked into previous bagged lunches.

"My pleasure."  JenniAnn grabbed her favorite pen and a bit of stationery, returned Andrew's smile, and then made her way to the kitchen to pack a lunch for her beloved.


"Sweetie, Appa will hold you in just a little bit.  Uncle Owen just needs to..."

"I want Appa!" Belle sobbed from the floor of her grandparents' chamber.

JenniAnn drew in and let out a deep breath.

"Belle, love, we've talked about this.  Sometimes you need to share with your little brother.  And that includes time with..."

"Appa!" Belle screamed.

Vincent, seated in his favorite chair with Avi on his lap, hid a chuckle.  He rather enjoyed being the center of attention.

"Belle," he began, "how about you go pick out some books that I'll read to you and Avi just as soon as Uncle Owen is done?"

"S-soon?" the little girl checked.

Vincent nodded.


Belle let out a shuddering breath then raced over to the little bookshelf that Catherine and Vincent kept stocked with books for her and the other grandchildren and littlest Tunnel-dwellers.

"Sorry," JenniAnn apologized as she moved behind Owen and admired his sketch.  "She seems to be going through a phase.  As much as she adores Avi, she gets very jealous.  And Andrew and I are doing our best to each spend quality, alone time with her."

Vincent lightly stroked little Avi's cheek and smiled at his goddaughter.

"I know you are, Psyche.  Most kids go through that.  You're doing your best."

"Just think, if I'd been in the Tunnels as a wee tyke, I could have been the baby driving you crazy, Psyche," Owen quipped.  "I hear tell I was quite adorable."

JenniAnn laughed.

"Then I'm glad you weren't here then."  She approached Vincent and clasped his shoulder.  "My Vincent!"

Her godfather laughed.

"I can just hear your little voice saying that.  Except it would have been 'Vincen.'  It took a while for you to get that last -t down."

"Was I quite adorable?" JenniAnn inquired, shooting a playful look at Owen.

"Very," Vincent confirmed.  "And with the blondest hair I'd ever seen.  Almost white."

JenniAnn glanced over at Belle.  She'd gotten distracted and was poring through a picture book on her own... likely Vincent's plan all along.

"I'm glad neither Belle nor Avi are that fair.  I'm gonna dunk em in sunscreen, anyway.  But maybe they won't burn up in the sun like I used to."

"Sure you're not part vampire?" Owen checked.

"I actually used to wonder!" JenniAnn replied.  "But I think it's just being half-Irish.  Speaking of... do you and Graham have plans for tomorrow?  Are ya coming to the party in the Fields?"

"Some of his med school peeps are headed to a pub around noon.  So we'll spend some time there.  But then, yeah, we'll join you all.  Fair warning: Might be a bit tipsy already by the time we get there."

"Be careful," Vincent counseled.  "I know you won't be driving but..."

"Others will," Owen finished.  "The pub's not far from St. G's so I think we'll just walk there, take the portal, no cars.  And we'll be careful crossing streets."

"Good," Vincent and JenniAnn replied in unison.

"And you'll read some Yeats for us?" JenniAnn asked hopefully, squeezing Vincent's hand.

"Of course."

"He better!"

Belle and the three adults all turned to the entrance of the chamber where Catherine stood.

"I'd feel very cheated if he didn't."  She approached her husband and kissed his hair. 



Catherine swooped her granddaughter up as she flew to her.

"Appa's gonna read to me.  Soon," Belle reported.

"Oooh.  What's he going to read to you?" Catherine asked.

As Belle began to chatter about the books she'd selected, JenniAnn's phone let out a jaunty jig.

"Hmm.  Isolde.  Must be about tomorrow."  She answered.  "G'morning, Isolde!"

"You'd probably have a better chance at hearing her in the hall, Psyche," Owen advised.

JenniAnn nodded and stepped out of the chamber.

"JenniAnn, are ya there?"

"Yes, sorry.  I'm with the kids at Vincent's and Catherine's and Belle is a bit... chirpy right now.  I stepped into the hall so I could hear you."

"Oh.  Okay."

"So what's up?"

"I... umm...  I'm late."

JenniAnn tilted her head. 

"Late for what?"

"No...  I mean...  My... my monthly...  It's late.  It... it's been very regular since Joshua cured me but, umm, it's six days late and..."

JenniAnn felt her heart begin to thud in her chest.

"Have you taken a test yet?"

There was silence for a few moments.


JenniAnn frowned.

"Well... why not?"

"I'm... nervous.  And I looked at them online and I just got so overwhelmed with all the options and I thought about calling Beth and askin' what she used but...  I don't want her to know because... cause if I'm not, I don't want to put a damper on her and Mick's wee one comin' along."

"Okay.  Got it.  Is Marco there?"

"He's at the restaurant."

"Do you... want me to go with you to pick up a test?" JenniAnn offered.

Once again, Isolde was silent for a few seconds.

"Would you?  I know it's weird but..."

"It's not weird.  Let me just check and see if someone here can watch the kids.  I'm sure I can find someone.  And I'll let you know when I'm on my way to your place."

"Thank you."  Isolde sniffled.  "It really means a lot.  I... I don't know why I'm being such a baby about this."

"You're not being a baby, Isolde.  This..."  JenniAnn's own eyes welled as she thought of her friends.  "This is something you and Marco have wanted for literally centuries.  I'd be emotional, too."

"Yeah... thanks."

"No problem.  I'll call you in a bit."

"Okay.  Talk to you soon."

"Talk to you soon."

JenniAnn ended the call then returned to her cousins' chamber.

"Everything all right?" Catherine asked.

"Oh yeah."  JenniAnn nodded.  "But Isolde could really use some help with something so... any chance you could watch Belle and Avi for an hour or two?"

Vincent nuzzled Avi's hair.

"I think we could manage that," he agreed.

Catherine studied JenniAnn, knowing she was hiding something. 

"You're sure that everything's okay?" she repeated.

"Yes, yes.  I promise.  Just... a thing."

Catherine's eyes grew wide.  While she likely hadn't intended the gesture, JenniAnn's hand had very tellingly and fleetingly rested on her belly.

"Good...  Yes, of course we'll watch the kids."

"Yay!"  Belle cheered.

"Thank you."  JenniAnn started a round of good bye hugs.  When she came to Catherine, the older woman squeezed her hand.

"I'll pray it turns out the way they want it to," she whispered.

Not entirely surprised by her cousin's keen observation, JenniAnn smiled and nodded.

"I'll be praying, too.  Thanks."  She raised her voice.  "See you all soon!"

And then, after gazing at her two much longed for babies, JenniAnn left the chamber and raced to the portal.


Because she knew her way around it best, JenniAnn had suggested that she and Isolde do their shopping at a Target near her parents' house.  It also limited the likelihood of running into another Friend.  Since they each had a bit of grocery shopping to do, they started with that.  JenniAnn hoped it would calm her friend somewhat but by the time they'd reached the ice cream aisle, their penultimate stop, Isolde was still jumpy and paler than JenniAnn had ever seen her.

"Hmm...  Maybe some mint chip for tomorrow's party?" JenniAnn suggested.  "Seems kinda festive.  Oooh and we can get some vanilla and chocolate and mix some Lucky Charms in!"

"Uh huh.  Sounds good."

JenniAnn squeezed Isolde's hand.

"I know you've waited an awfully long time.  But... physically... you're very, very young.  If it turns out negative, you have lots and lots of time."

Isolde nodded.

"I... I know.  But I... I just want to be able to welcome Mick's and Beth's baby with total happiness.  I... I don't want jealousy creepin' in.  I even... when you and Andrew brought Avi home..."

JenniAnn dropped the cartons she was holding into the cart and embraced her friend.

"I'm sorry...  I... I didn't even notice."

"I didn't want you to!  And I was so happy for you and Andrew!" Isolde stressed.  "I just...  I want my own little one so badly.  And I can tell Marco... he...  I... I could see it in his eyes when Mick and Beth made their announcement.  The longing..."

"I know...  And I hope and pray you get good news today.  But whenever it happens...  I know you'll be a wonderful mother, Isolde.  And Marco's gonna be an awesome dad.  Your baby will be so blessed."

Isolde forced a smile and returned JenniAnn's hug.

"Thank you.  Whenever you're ready...  I'm ready."

"I'm ready."

The two set off towards the pharmacy area where they surveyed a wide array of pregnancy tests.  While Isolde gaped, JenniAnn began to read the packaging.  But she soon realized that she had no idea what she was looking for.  She'd never had reason to take a pregnancy test!

"Maybe... maybe I should get two?  From two different brands?" Isolde suggested.  "If they both agree...  I'll know.  If they don't... I could go see Portia?  I know she'd keep it secret."

"Good idea," JenniAnn agreed.  "So..."

"Have you heard of any of these brands?"

"Umm..."  JenniAnn picked a box up.  "I think I just saw a commercial about this one."

"Okay.  I'll take it.  And..."  Isolde grabbed another from a rival brand.  "This one."

"Good choice.  So... ready?"


"Okay."  JenniAnn patted Isolde's back then pushed the cart towards the front of the store where the check-out lines were.  Mindful of Isolde's potential shyness, she chose a female cashier.

The two were silent as they waited their turn, each praying. 

Then a voice interrupted JenniAnn's thoughts.

"Cassie, break time.  Finish up this order then Andrew will take over."

JenniAnn's eyes went wide.  It wasn't possible...  Of course she knew Andrew was in town.  He'd told her so that morning.  But of all the places to be...  Her Andrew couldn't be there!  There were so many Andrews...

Before JenniAnn could further ponder the likelihood, Isolde clutched her shoulder.

JenniAnn spun around to meet her ashen face.

"Isolde!  You look..."

"I'm gonna be sick..." the Irishwoman choked out.  She pushed a wad of cash into JenniAnn's hand then hurried towards the restrooms.

"Thank you!  Have a great day!" the cashier wished as the previous customer sauntered off with her cart. 

"And now you have a good break!"

The color drained from JenniAnn's own face as she first heard and then saw Andrew waving his co-worker away.  A moment later, he saw her.


JenniAnn gaped up at the angel.

"Hey...  I, umm... Isolde and I decided to get some groceries for tomorrow.  Fancy meeting you here!" she replied, her voice much too high. 

Andrew chuckled.

"Yeah.  What are the odds?  I guess it was meant to be."  He glanced upwards before beginning to scan the groceries.  "Ooh.  Good choices on the ice cream."


Andrew scanned the rest of the cart.  And then he, too, paled.

"Umm..."  He pointed to the two small boxes in the child seat portion of the cart.

"Isolde's!  They're Isolde's!" JenniAnn blurted out.

Andrew blinked then shook his head.

"Right.  Sorry.  I... I worried..."

Mindful of the people around them, JenniAnn only briefly set a hand on her anam cara's arm.

"You know I would never cheat, love."

Andrew adamantly shook his head.

"I... I didn't think that at all!  Never, Laja.  I... I did have a moment of worry that maybe something... bad... had happened."

JenniAnn felt a momentary shock then her gaze softened.  She had hidden Rex's assault from Andrew.  It wasn't unreasonable for his mind to go there, especially given his job.

"No, love.  Not at all.  Hopefully something very good for Isolde and Marco."

The two smiled at each other.

"I pray so," Andrew responded as he rang up a bunch of bananas. 

"Me too.  Sorry for the scare."

"Not your fault."

"I was just nervous because... well, Isolde didn't want anyone else to know.  Catherine's already guessed and now you..."

"I won't tell a soul.  So where is Isolde?"

"Well... she ran off to the restroom saying she felt sick."

JenniAnn and Andrew exchanged a meaningful look.

"But she's been nervous this whole time... so it could just be nerves."

"Could be," Andrew agreed though he couldn't entirely keep the excitement out of his voice.

JenniAnn grinned.

"So... is that it for our order?" Andrew checked.

JenniAnn surveyed the cart and picked up a chocolate cake.

"I think she picked this up as either comfort or celebration.  But can we treat?"


Andrew accepted the cake, rang it up, and set it aside.

After finishing their transaction, JenniAnn started loading Isolde's order onto the stand. 

Soon after, Isolde returned.  What color had returned to her face washed away when she noticed Andrew.

"Hey, Isolde," the angel greeted with a gentle smile.

"You know..." she murmured.

JenniAnn nodded.

"But he's already promised not to tell anyone.  Sorry.  Most girls probably could have lied and said they were theirs but..."

Isolde gave a weak chuckle.

"I'm glad you didn't try.  I wouldn't want to be responsible for strife between the two of you."

"I really hope you get the answer you want, Isolde," Andrew wished.

"Thank you... me too."  Isolde returned his smile then frowned when he scanned the final item.  "I don't think that total can be right.  It should be more."

"Andrew and I covered the cake," JenniAnn explained.  "We wanted to.  A gesture of goodwill and hope."

Isolde's face lit up.

"Aww.  Thanks.  I appreciate that.  I... I'm hoping that I can write a message to Marco on it.  I have icing at home.  If not... I'm just goin' to scarf it all down."

Andrew patted her hand.

"I hope you'll be doing the former."

"Thanks."  Isolde let out a deep breath as Andrew handed her the receipt.  "And now..."

"We'll head back?" JenniAnn finished.

Isolde gave a nod and gathered up her bags.

"I'll be thinking of you!" Andrew called.

"Thank you."  With a quivering smile, Isolde headed toward the doors.

JenniAnn mouthed an "I love you" to Andrew then hurried after her friend.

Once they had their bags stowed, Isolde quietly sat behind the steering wheel of the car they'd borrowed from JenniAnn's parents.

"Now what?" JenniAnn inquired.  "Do you want me to stay with you while you take the tests?  Do you want me to call Marco to be with you?"

Isolde adamantly shook her head.

"No.  I don't want him to know unless... unless it's positive.  And I... I don't want to take any more of your time."

"Don't worry about that.  It's whatever you want, Isolde."

"I... I would like you to be there if that's okay?"


"And maybe... maybe we could go to Willowveil?  It's closer to the portal."

"That's fine.  Or, if you want, you could take the test at my parents'.  They still won't be home."

Isolde's eyes lit up. 

"Yes.  Let's do that.  Thanks!" 

After another short, virtually silent drive, the two women returned to JenniAnn's childhood home.

JenniAnn led her friend upstairs. 

"There's the bathroom.  I'll wait in my old room.  Come in whenever you're ready."  She hugged Isolde who was clutching the two tests.  "Good luck!  Praying for you!"

"Th-thanks..."  Isolde squeezed JenniAnn back then entered the bathroom.

JenniAnn settled onto her old bed and stared up at the ceiling, laughing at the Friends poster that still hung there.  She really ought to take it down sometime soon...  If she and Andrew ever had to stay there, she didn't particularly like the idea of him staring up at Jennifer Aniston. 

As she surveyed the room further, JenniAnn mused over the strangeness of her current situation.  She'd never imagined being there, fretting over a pregnancy test.  Her supremely chaste teenage and young adulthood had prevented that.  But now here she was... waiting on the results for a centuries old, former vampire who was now one of her dear friends...  She thought of Joshua, of his promise.

Isolde and Marco would have children.

It was just a matter of when...

Restless, JenniAnn stood up and began to unpin the poster.  She was just rolling it up when Isolde appeared in the doorway.

"I... I'm done," she murmured.  "And they... they matched."

The poster fell to the floor and unfurled as JenniAnn prepared to hear Isolde's news.


Marco smiled as he entered the cabin he shared with his wife. 

"'Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li.  Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that's an Irish lullaby,'" Bing Crosby crooned.

Of course Isolde was playing Irish music over St. Patrick's Day weekend.

"'Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral.  Hush now, don't you cry,'" Marco sang along as he unlaced his boots. 

He was hanging up his coat when the song came to a close... only to immediately start up again.

"Isolde!  I think your playlist is stuck on repeat again," Marco called.

Isolde stepped out of the kitchen and smiled at her husband.

"I know."

Marco cocked his head when she held her hand out to him.  He took it and followed her into the kitchen.

"It smells delicious."

"Thank you.  It's my ma's old stew recipe.  Almost done.  But... I thought we might start with dessert for once."

Marco chuckled.


"Courtesy of Andrew and JenniAnn," Isolde explained.  "But I decorated."

"Did ya now?" Marco replied in his old accent.  He gave his wife an affectionate squeeze.  "Well, let's see it then."

"Okay.  But... maybe sit down at the table first?" Isolde requested.

Marco chuckled.

"You're a mysterious one this evening!"

Obediently, he sat down.

Isolde lifted the cake from the counter and set it down in front of her husband.  She took a seat across from him then pulled off the dish towel that was covering the cake box.

Marco stared at the pink and blue lettering on the cake.

"Happy St. Patrick's Day, Da" was written in his wife's looping script.

"'Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,'" Bing continued.

Marco gulped and met Isolde's gaze.

"You... you're... pregnant?"

Beaming, Isolde nodded and squeezed his hands.

"I took two tests just to be sure.  Both were positive."

"Isolde..."  Marco rushed to his wife's side and held her close.  "Isolde... mo cailin..."

"Are... are you happy?" Isolde checked with brimming eyes.

Marco sighed and buried his face in her hair.

"So happy..." he murmured.  "You?"

Isolde beamed and nodded.

Marco rested a hand on his wife's belly.

"Hullo, little one," he greeted.  "I... I'm excited to meet you."

"Me too," Isolde cooed.

Marco chuckled.

"So that's why you had this song on a loop?"

Grinning, Isolde nodded.

"I thought we should both learn it well.  We'll need to be singing it soon."

"Yes..."  A huge smile lit up Marco's face before he passionately kissed his beloved.

"I love you so much, mo chuisle," Isolde murmured, nuzzling her head beneath Marco's chin after a second kiss.

"And I love you so, my sweet girl.  You'll be the most wonderful mother.  I just know it."

"And you'll be an amazing dad.  And I... I can't wait to see you with the wee one."

"To hold them..."

"And sing to them..."

"And hear their little baby laugh..."

"And teach em about Joshua..."


The couple rested the foreheads against each other and prayed in thanksgiving for the little, promised miracle that had come to them 185,845 days after their wedding night.

The End

"Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's an Irish Lullaby)" by James Royce Shannon


This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for keeping my half-Irish self appropriately sentimental.

Web page background and divider courtesy of www.aon-celtic.com.

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(Photo Credits: The photograph used on this page is from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions.  It is not being used to seek profit.)