"Where there is great love, there are always miracles."
~~Willa Cather

Hi all,

I hope this newsletter finds everyone doing well.  I know there's a lot going on in the world right now and I just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you all and wishing you the best!

Things have settled down a bit for me so I was able to finish the Valentine's vignettes... better late than never, I guess!  They do pick up right where "A Thousand Years" left off so may not make much sense without that.  And if the stories aren't your thing... I'm not sure what I'll be sending in two weeks but I highly doubt it'll be a story.  Hopefully it'll be more to your liking!

Speaking of... I'd love to do more in the vein of "Ask Andrew," "Ask a JABB Co-Founder," or "Ask the Angel of Angels" so if you have any questions, I'd love to hear them!

God bless,

Returning Home        Brotherly Love

Returning Home

Saturday, October 30th, 2021

With the cheers of their well-wishing friends and family sounding behind them, Andrew and JenniAnn stepped through the portal from El-Chanan to Dyeland.

JenniAnn let out a dreamy sigh as she and Andrew appeared in the gazebo.

"Home," she murmured.

Andrew's eyes welled as he peered around them.

"Yes.  And it feels good to return feeling like my old self."


JenniAnn wrapped her arms around his waist and gave him a squeeze.

Andrew nuzzled her hair.

After a few moments, JenniAnn spoke again.

"It's so quiet..."

Andrew chuckled.

"I guess that's what happens when everyone is partying in El-Chanan."

"Guess so.  It was so nice to see everyone so happy and together."


Andrew squeezed JenniAnn's hand then led her down the steps.

"Now what?" she asked.

"Well...  I'd definitely like a dance in the ballroom.  Or two or three."  Andrew smiled softly.  "A month delayed but better late than never."

JenniAnn hugged his arm.

"Yes, my love."

"But first..." Andrew guided JenniAnn towards their willow tree.  Though its branches were growing sparse, it still offered some cover... not that it mattered with so many people gone.

"So many memories tied up with this tree," JenniAnn murmured.

Andrew nodded.

JenniAnn leaned against the trunk then reached up to caress the angel's face.

Andrew closed the distance between them and kissed her forehead... then her temples... her cheeks...  He was just about to go for her lips when JenniAnn giggled.

"Umm... we're not alone."

Andrew reluctantly pulled away and turned around to see that JenniAnn was pointing to a nearby bat house... and a squeaking bat flapping around in an empty fruit tray.

"It's Stella.  We can't let her go hungry.  Look at that widdle, pleading face..."  JenniAnn stuck her lower lip out.

Andrew chuckled, looking between his anam cara and the bat they had unofficially adopted after she'd crashed into the castle's conservatory.

"All right.  I'll go get some fruit," Andrew offered.  "You and Stella can catch up."

JenniAnn beamed.

"Thank you!"

Andrew gave her a quick hug then headed to the castle, turning back once to see Stella flying around JenniAnn, chirping as JenniAnn cooed.

"An angel of death and a Disney princess... what a pair!" he joked to himself.

Andrew entered the castle and made his way to the kitchen, his eyes welling as he took everything in without double or blurry vision or dizziness.  Feeling especially generous, he loaded up a plate with an assortment of fruit and returned to JenniAnn and Stella.

"Look!  You have a whole buffet!" JenniAnn cheered as Andrew dumped the offering into the bat's bowl.

Once Stella was entirely focused on her food, Andrew and JenniAnn headed to the castle.  They entered and after Andrew had closed the door, JenniAnn gently pushed him against it.

"We were interrupted earlier..."  She stretched up and kissed his lips.

Andrew responded with one of his own... then a second and third.

JenniAnn nuzzled his chest.

"I... I missed this so much."

"Me too, Laja.  More... more than I could bring myself to say.  Even to think about."

"I did say... to Crowley," JenniAnn admitted, her face flushed.  "It was the day before we last, umm...  Well, I was feeling something and I didn't have a word for it but the closest I could come up with was horny but that wasn't right because I didn't want to have sex."

Andrew chuckled.

"Good to know."

JenniAnn smiled and shook her head.

"So... he made up a word.  Halo-y.  It's the ace version of horny.  Although I suppose others could feel it, too.  But it's when you desperately want to snuggle and be romantic and, yes, canoodle but can't."

"I see."  Andrew brushed an errant hair from JenniAnn's face.

"I spose it was a bit unbecoming to have that discussion with..."

"With your friend," Andrew interrupted.  "Laja, I'm just glad you were comfortable opening up with someone.  I wish it had been me but I understand completely why it wasn't.  And... I can't say I felt... halo-y?"

JenniAnn nodded.

"I can't say I felt halo-y at the time.  I... I felt frustrated.  And sad.  But I was just so tired and mentally fuzzy.  However... I will fully admit to having felt it in the past... and very much today," Andrew admitted.

"Really?" JenniAnn asked, her eyes wide with surprise.

"Laja...  It's not even uncommon!  So many times when I'm working an assignment and something will bring you to mind... I feel it.  And a lot brings you to mind."

JenniAnn blushed.

"I sometimes just still can't fathom that.  I mean... you're an angel.  Where... where does that come from?"

"I don't think it's that odd.  It's pretty common to meet someone, have a connection with them, and that relationship opens up parts of yourself you didn't even realize were there," Andrew reasoned.

"True..."  JenniAnn smiled as she brushed some hair behind his ear.

Andrew returned her smile then gently tugged her towards the ballroom.

"Any requests?" he asked as he pulled out his phone.

"'Dark Waltz'?" JenniAnn suggested.

Andrew smiled and nodded then wrapped JenniAnn in his arms.

JenniAnn closed her eyes for a few moments as they swayed together.

"We are the lucky ones.
We shine like a thousand suns,
When all of the color runs together.
I'll keep you company
In one glorious harmony,
Waltzing with destiny forever.
Dance me into the night,
Underneath the moon shining so bright,
Turning me into the light!"

Andrew rested his cheek against her hair.

JenniAnn sniffled.

"Laja...  Are you okay?"  Andrew gently lifted her chin.

"Y-yes.  Better than okay.  Just... missed this."

"Me too."

The two kissed then danced through two more songs before JenniAnn let out a shuddering sigh.

"Maybe... maybe now we could go clean up and then meet up in our bedroom?" she suggested.

Andrew kissed her forehead and nodded.

"I'd love that."

JenniAnn smiled then, hand-in-hand, they made their way up the stairs.  At the landing, they parted with a kiss and made their preparations.

When JenniAnn stepped out of the bathroom, she found Andrew stoking the fireplace.  A collection of miniature rose bushes were placed around the room.


Andrew grinned.

"Well... I thought about doing the rose petals thing.  But dead or dying flowers make you sad so... this seemed like a good substitute."

JenniAnn cupped one of the roses in her hands and breathed in the scent.  Tears filled her eyes as she thought of another rose bush... one sitting in a place of pride in their conservatory.  That rose had symbolized Andrew's decision to take on human form and age along with her... to suffer like he never had before.

"Laja..."  Andrew moved behind JenniAnn and wrapped his arms around her waist, nuzzling her hair.

"Sorry...  Just...  It's beautiful.  Thank you.  Just thinking."  JenniAnn twisted around and cupped Andrew's face in her hands.  Every trace of the month's trauma was gone.  But she could still see it.

Andrew brought JenniAnn's right wrist to his lips.

"You're beautiful," he murmured.

JenniAnn smiled as he wiped away her tears.

"Thank you.  So are you.  And I'm fine.  Really."

Andrew was not convinced.

"Come sit with me for a bit?" he requested, moving to their settee.


Andrew smiled when JenniAnn opted to sit on his knee, her arms twined around his neck.

"I think... after a few days... we should look into talking to Reuel or Jamie or someone," Andrew suggested.  "But right now I need you to know this.  When I think back on this past month, it's not the pain or the confusion that are top of mind.  It's you... always there.  Always loving me.  Always looking out for me, taking care of me... on top of taking care of the kids.  You never left me, Laja.  You never made me feel bad about what I couldn't do.  I'll never, ever forget that."

JenniAnn sniffled and rested her head on Andrew's shoulder.  As he gently stroked her back and ran his hands through her hair, JenniAnn's melancholia melted away and was replaced by very different feelings.  She stood up and squeezed Andrew's hand.

"Let's go to bed."

"I'd like that," Andrew agreed with a smile.

They climbed into their bed and laid down, facing each other.

There were a few moments of awkwardness before Andrew spoke.

"Do you wanna..."

"Yes!" JenniAnn interrupted.

Chuckling, Andrew moved closer and kissed JenniAnn's lips while he stroked her back.

JenniAnn buried her face in Andrew's neck.  She traced kisses along his collarbone then gripped his T-shirt.

"Closer?" Andrew checked.

JenniAnn nodded.

Andrew made quick work of his T-shirt but JenniAnn hit a literal snag when a dainty button from her camisole got stuck in her hair.

"Uh oh..." JenniAnn mumbled as she attempted to extricate herself.

Andrew chuckled.

"Let me.  I can at least see it."

"I guess I was meant to unbutton it... not pull it over my head."

Andrew swiftly untangled the mess at the back of her head and tossed the offending cami to the foot of the bed.

"Why am I so awkward?" JenniAnn whined.

Andrew hugged her.

"It's just been a while and emotions are running high.  Tonight doesn't have to be perfect, Laja.  It's just... it's about us.  About loving each other."

"Yeah..."  JenniAnn peered up at Andrew and smiled.  "I love you."

"And I love you."

JenniAnn sighed contentedly then gently pushed Andrew back to the pillows.  She rested her head over his heart and listened as she caressed his chest.

Andrew's hands drifted through JenniAnn's hair and along her back.  He closed his eyes and let his other senses take over.  He took in the scents of lavender, rose, and soap.  He heard the gentle breeze and an owl hooting.  He felt JenniAnn shift and straddle his waist.  Andrew opened his eyes and watched her.

Her eyes scanned his arms and shoulders, his chest and stomach.

Andrew rested a hand over JenniAnn's when she set it on his side where a particularly ugly welt had been.  The angel of death found himself thinking of Thoma and Joshua.  Maybe it hadn't been the case that Thoma had truly doubted Joshua's Resurrection.  Maybe he'd just been traumatized and so afraid of letting back in the hope that had abandoned him.

"It... it's not that I didn't believe Raphael," JenniAnn whispered.  "But... it helps to see.  All gone."

Andrew brought her hand to his lips.

"Yes," he affirmed.  "And all the pain, too.  And no matter what happens in the future, even if it takes time, we'll always be healed, always set right."

JenniAnn nodded then snuggled back down beside Andrew.  She raised a hand to stroke some hair from his face and smiled at her ring.

"I really do love my ring.  It was all so lovely."

"And I love mine.  And it was."

"It woulda been lovely regardless.  But... I'm glad it happened the way we'd wanted it to."

Andrew nuzzled JenniAnn's hair.

"Me too.  I woulda regretted not walking down the aisle with you."

"And we got to dance."

"Yup."  Andrew chuckled.  "I think I almost gave your parents panic attacks whipping you around during 'Bei Mir Bistu Shein.'"

JenniAnn giggled.

"They'll get over it.  I'm just surprised I remembered everything.  Been a long time."

"Like riding a bike."

"If only the skills had transferred to when Aziraphale was trying to teach us all the Gavotte."

Andrew laughed loudly remembering the chaos.

"Maybe if Aziraphale and Crowley ever decide to have a ceremony, we could all learn it properly as a surprise," JenniAnn suggested.

Andrew kissed her forehead.

"I think they'd like that a lot.  And I hope they do.  It feels good.  Not that I felt anything was missing.  I loved our ceremony in the chapel with Joshua.  And I knew our friends accepted us.  But...  It just feels good to have had that moment with you and our kids and everyone close to us."

"It does," JenniAnn agreed.  "Can't quite put my finger on why because you're right.  What we had felt sufficient and yet... I wanted that.  And I thought maybe it was just growing up surrounded by wedding culture but... it feels like more than that."

"I think, as much as it was about us, it was also about the whole group.  Especially with being apart for so long, it felt good to have everyone together.  To celebrate our bond, sure.  But also to celebrate the bond between all of us.  You know, when I wasn't looking upon my lovely anam cara with a sense of enchantment..."

JenniAnn giggled and playfully rolled her eyes.

Andrew smiled and kissed her temple and continued.

"I sometimes looked to Crowley.  And a few times I caught him looking... I dunno.  He just looked peaceful.  Like I think his old self must have looked."

"Aww.  He did seem especially happy, didn't he?"  JenniAnn nuzzled closer.

"Yes.  And I saw similar looks elsewhere...  Kids merrily grabbing candy and hugging aunts and uncles they've not seen in person in two years.  Couples remembering their own vows.  And Reuel... Reuel was beaming.  This was a big step back to normalcy for him, too.  And Jamie and Gwen..."  Andrew's eyes welled.  "They were truly happy, Laja."

JenniAnn's eyes glistened and she nodded against Andrew's chest.

"So much... my heart's so full..."

And then her stomach growled.

JenniAnn giggled.

"My stomach... less so.  I think I was so focused on catching up with everyone, I didn't eat much."

Andrew chuckled and nodded.

"Same.  And... when I got the fruit earlier, I noticed some leftovers had been brought back.  Care for a little fireside picnic?"

"Ooh...  That sounds delightful!  I'll get the food, you get the fire going?"

"Happily."  Andrew kissed JenniAnn then set to work.

JenniAnn made her way to the kitchen and loaded up a tray of food.  She smiled when she discovered a pitcher of sangria was also present.  She added that and two flutes to the tray then carefully made her way back upstairs.

Andrew greeted her at the door and took the tray.

"Aww, love..."  JenniAnn admired the comfortable nest he had made for them.  She sighed contently as she sat down and felt the warmth of the fire.

Andrew joined her and settled the tray between them.

"I don't remember there being sangria," he commented as he handed JenniAnn hers.

"There wasn't.  I was afraid the kids would want some.  But..."

"Someone knew."  Andrew winked.

"He did.  I also noticed a bottle of his champagne chilling by the orange juice so... mimosas with breakfast."

"Yum."  Andrew raised his glass.

JenniAnn smiled and did the same.

"To my beloved anam cara, my Laja.  And to Joshua and all those who prepared this delicious food."

"To you, my strong and resilient Andrew," JenniAnn added.  "And to our wonderful family and friends."

The two clinked their glasses then kissed before taking sips and digging in.

Once they were satiated, the two picked up where they'd left off.

JenniAnn sunk down against the cushions, pulling Andrew with her.

As his full weight settled against her body, JenniAnn's brain flooded with sensory memories... the smell of his cologne mingling with the NYC night air, the unyielding hardness of concrete against her back, the hisses and shouts of the demons.

Alarmed by the look in JenniAnn's eyes, Andrew began to move away.


But JenniAnn held fast to him.

"Don't.  Please.  I... I need to move past it."

Andrew's eyes welled as he realized what was going on.  He nodded then kissed her forehead, lips, and neck.

JenniAnn stared up at the ceiling... their ceiling.  Not the cold night sky.  And there was no concrete but, instead, a pile of cushions and blankets lovingly arranged.  And there were no demons.  Only her angel.

Andrew untied the robe JenniAnn had put on when she'd gone to get the food.  He kissed the patch of skin over her heart then rested his head there.  He closed his eyes and listened, each beat reminding him that she was okay, that she was alive and safe.

JenniAnn drew in and let out a deep breath then buried her hands in Andrew's hair.  She ran her fingers through the gold strands peppered with gray.  Then she softly stroked Andrew's back.

After a few minutes, Andrew shifted so he could peer into JenniAnn's eyes.

"How do you feel?"

She smiled as she caressed his face.

"Safe.  Loved."

Andrew smiled and kissed her.

"Me too."

Comfortable and content as they were, the two snuggled together.

Soon, JenniAnn drifted to sleep.  Andrew remained awake and watchful.

He was not fearful or anxious.  He truly did feel safe and loved.  The shadows of the past month had been vanquished.  The memories would remain.  Andrew knew that.  They'd return in unexpected moments and ways.  Trauma was not easily left in the past.  But the memories were no longer suffocating.  He'd spoken truthfully to JenniAnn.  The memories he carried daily would be of her... of her cool, soft hands stroking his face as nausea raged; of her arm around his waist, steadying him; the looks of love that never wavered even on the worst days.

Andrew kissed JenniAnn's hair.

"'I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine,'" he murmured.

Andrew smiled as he heard a dove coo in seeming agreement.

The End


Brotherly Love

Saturday, October 30th, 2021

Joshua set down a tray laden with three mugs of spiced milk and some biscotti on a coffee table in his living room.  He settled into a chair then smiled at Shelby and Violeta who were seated, side by side, on a couch. 

"I'm so glad we have this time together.  I loved chatting and dancing with you both at the reception but... it's a little hard to have a real discussion with so much going on, hmm?"

The two sisters gratefully accepted the mugs he handed to him.

"It was," Violeta agreed.  "But it was so good to see everyone together!"

"And Andrew and Psyche back to normal," Shelby added.

Violeta gave a solemn nod then angled her head back towards the bedrooms. 

"If Belle or Avi wake up..."

Joshua rested a hand on her arm.

"My Ama and Abi are more than capable of taking care of them.  And I doubt they'll wake up anyway.  All that running around and dancing wore them out.  Belle fell asleep mid-sentence."

Shelby laughed.

"I envy her that.  I mean she has the occasional bad night like we all do, of course.  But she falls asleep a lot easier than I do."

"She's still young enough that a lot that troubles you isn't of real concern to her," Joshua reminded.  "Not because she's unfeeling.  Not at all.  But because she's a little kid and that's how it should be.  That's why I wanted to talk to the two of you.  Avi and Belle were shielded from so much of what happened this past month.  You two weren't.  Max wasn't."

"Shouldn't Max be here?" Violeta checked.

"I'll be sure to talk to Max," Joshua assured.  "But right now he needs to be with Rose and Landon and Amelia... and he needs to sleep."

Shelby nodded then smiled.

"Reuel showed us this house once.  But I don't remember it having so many bedrooms."

Joshua winked.

"Magic," he teased.  "I love having you all here.  It's not often I get to return the favor after all the times you all hosted me at Willowveil."

"As if we don't love it!  And I'm really glad Andrew and Psyche have the castle to themselves."  Shelby blushed.  "I'm sure they're enjoying the solitude."

Violeta giggled.

Joshua just smiled and sipped his milk.

"Could it... happen again?" Violeta murmured.  "The demons attacking, I mean?"

Joshua set down his mug and reached out his hands.  Shelby and Violeta each took one and he gave them affectionate squeezes.

"It could.  But Andrew and JenniAnn would come through it... just as they have these past two times."

"But... could?  You know!" Shelby pressed.

"I do," Joshua confirmed.  "But if I say yes, then you'll live with that dread.  If I say no...  It wouldn't mean there aren't other trials yet to come.  In many ways, Andrew's assignment in Afghanistan was much worse for them both.  I can promise you that I would never let them be separated for so long again," he vowed.

Shelby considered this and nodded.

"It was worse," she agreed.  "As much as it hurt to see Andrew in pain, it was awful not seeing him and wondering if he was in pain.  I'm sure Psyche felt that even more deeply than I did.  I... I was with her almost constantly then.  And her nerves were definitely frayed this time around.  But back then..."  Shelby shook her head.

"She seemed so fragile.  Lost.  And I was still trying to be so mature but... I... I didn't feel it."  Violeta sniffled.

Shelby hugged her then peered at Joshua.

"Kinda awful to think that humans did more damage than demons did."

Joshua nodded.

"In many ways, yes.  But for all the pain humans caused ten years ago and demons caused this month, humans and angels also gave so much help and comfort and love.  The both of you included.  I saw how you stayed close to Andrew and JenniAnn, how you helped out around the castle and with your younger siblings, how you supported each other."  He beamed at them.  "I'm proud of you."

Shelby and Violeta smiled at each other then at Joshua.

"Thanks," the angel responded.  "That means a lot.  And I'm just glad I could be close by."

"Me too," Shelby agreed. 

"I think one of the hardest things was... well... I mean it's not like I don't understand that Andrew and JenniAnn are individuals.  I do!  And I admire and love them as individuals," Violeta stressed.  "But...  The entire time I've known them, they've been a unit.  Andrew was my supervisor... but JenniAnn was just as much my teacher.  Andrew taught me how to be an angel, JenniAnn taught me how to navigate the world in... in this body.  Even though it's changed, there's always been this partnership between them.  And it was so... unsettling to see that threatened."

"Especially when we know..."  Shelby sniffled.  "Psyche isn't always going to... to be here.  And I know we're not special in that.  Lots of kids have to see one of their parents lose a partner.  A couple dying together... like my parents... is way less common than one half dying sometimes even years before the other does.  A-and Andrew... he'll never die."

"This all...  It left me with serious doubts that we're going to... to be able to support Andrew when JenniAnn does go Home," Violeta concluded.

For a moment, Joshua peered in the direction of his parents' bedroom.  He remembered his Abi's death and the years that followed.  He smiled sadly, remembering his Ama's strength, before turning his attention back to the girls.

"It's going to be difficult.  I'm not going to sugar coat that.  Andrew is strong.  My Ama is and was strong.  But it still hurt when I'd find her in Abi's workshop... her hands just gliding over his tools.  There was nothing I could say to fix her pain.  I could remind her of my Father's love... of the Home that awaited us all where we wouldn't know grief or pain any more.  But she believed that already.  It didn't make the sorrow she felt in that moment go away.  You can't love someone for decades... live with them... share a bed with them... and just be okay with their physical presence being lost to you even if it is only temporary.  But I would sit with her.  And I could share my memories, my sadness.  She knew she wasn't alone.  Andrew will know he's not alone."

"That's true.  We'll make sure of that," Shelby promised.  "And it's not like Andrew would never, ever see Psyche again.  I mean Jamie would sometimes take years off to be with Gwen, right?"

"Right," Joshua confirmed.  He kept to himself that he knew what Andrew and JenniAnn planned.  That would be for them to share in the years to come... or not.

"I know Andrew would do something like that."  Violeta smiled dreamily.  "They looked so perfect today...  Like something out of a fairy tale."

"Psyche looked so pretty and Andrew so handsome!" Shelby gushed.  "And they were both so giddy that they, somehow, seemed younger.  Like how I remember them when I was little except, well, definitely clingier."  She laughed.  "A lot clingier."

Joshua also chuckled.

"And I have a suspicion that Takoda and Joccy were taking notes."

"Ooh...  And did you see Aziraphale and Crowley dancing?  They were so cute!"

"I know!  I felt a little bad for Liam.  Poor kid was getting dragged onto the dance floor repeatedly by Belle.  He's too nice to say no."

"And did you notice that even with all the noise and people, Evie was managing?  I mean, yeah, she was either clinging to Mallory or Avi but that's a big deal for her!"

Joshua listened happily to the two sisters, occasionally interjecting with his own memories of the day.  And he waited.  Part two would begin soon...


Sunday, October 31st, 2021

It was nearly 4:00 AM when Joshua's solitude was disturbed by Max stepping onto the front porch.

Joshua smiled and held up a mug.

"Coffee?" he offered.

"Yes, please..."  Max took the mug and sipped.  "Delicious, thank you.  Have you been up all night?"


"I passed Shelby and Violeta.  How long have they been out?"

"About two hours.  I thought about getting them up to move to a bedroom but they're young enough.  They can sleep on a couch without it resulting in a three day long backache."

Max laughed.

"Nowadays, I can get that from sleeping in my own bed."

"It happens to the best of us."

Max sat down.

"Yeah, well, I imagine especially for you.  You slept on the ground a lot, huh?"

Joshua nodded.

"So did you."

Max's mind flickered back to Afghanistan.

"Mmm hmm."

Joshua patted his arm.

"So why are you up so early?"

Max shrugged.

"Just couldn't get back to sleep.  Checked on Rose, the kids, the girls.  Thought that might calm me down but... no.  Then I saw you."

"I'm glad you came out here.  I've been wanting to talk to you.  I noticed you never sought out Jamie to talk."

Max's face flushed.

"You know, when I said 'physician, heal thyself,' I was pointing out, among other things, how easily it can be said without fully recognizing someone's reality.  It certainly wasn't an order."

"Yeah...  I'm just used to being the listener, not the one unloading."

"And I understand that.  It's your job to listen to people, to help them.  But I don't think this is just Dr. Max talking," Joshua gently prodded. 

Max dragged a hand through his hair and shook his head.

"No...  It's just...  I'm the oldest.  It's my job to take care of the younger kids when Andrew and JenniAnn can't or need help.  It's my job to comfort them... and Rose and our kids."

Joshua squeezed Max's hand.

"You're a wonderful son, Max.  You don't need to prove that."

"But I..."  Max's voice trailed off. 

Joshua waited patiently.

"Okay, maybe that's part of it," Max admitted.  "But... it... it's not like I uproot my family and move to Willowveil when something goes awry just because I want Dad and Maja to see that I'm there... that I've not abandoned our family for my own.  It's also..."  Tears welled in his eyes.  "I just... I get scared, I guess.  Scared for them.  Scared for me.  Maybe... maybe I'd be less afraid if I'd grown up with them.  Witnessed with my own eyes everything they've overcome...  And it's not that I don't trust them.  I do!  But... but everyone has their limits and they're only hu..."  Max chuckled and swiped at his eyes.  "Well, Maja's only human.  And I've learned being an angel doesn't mean everything is easy.  It's not.  So when something bad happens... I feel better when I can be close by, keep an eye on them.  Step in and help if needed.  Because... cause... I... I haven't had a real mom and dad for very long a-and I'm not ready to give that up.  Not even close to ready.  If something happened to one or both of them...  Yes, I want them to know I'm there when they need me b-but... God knows... you know... I need them."

"I do know, Max," Joshua assured.  "I really do."

Max began to sob.

"As painful as it was to... to see Dad like that... to see how torn up Maja was... I could see them.  Every morning.  A-and it made me feel less afraid.  The center can hold."

"'Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,'" Joshua quoted.  "Yeats' The Second Coming.  Not actually about the Second Coming, by the way.  Not really.  He wrote it while so much around him was in chaos.  The First World War had ended, leaving destruction and grief in its wake.  It was a turbulent, frightening time in Ireland.  And then his pregnant wife nearly died during the 1918 pandemic.  It was his way of getting his feelings... his fears out."

Max was quiet for a few moments.

Joshua resumed speaking.

"The center can hold, Max.  You're right.  And I can understand needing to be close by your parents.  I do.  And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But... I need you to know that the center... your family... can hold.  It will hold.  Even... even when you won't be able to see your parents.  I'll be watching over you all.  No matter what.  I'll keep you together."

"I... I know."

"I know you know.  But I also know that doesn't make everything easy.  That's why I think you need to take a page from Yeats."  Joshua reached over to an end table and picked up a small gift bag.  He handed it to Max.

In spite of his tears, Max chuckled as he removed the items.

"A journal and pen...  Jamie was trying to get people to take these."

"She was.  I said I'd make a last-ditch effort with you."

Max opened the journal and ran a hand over the pages.

"I'm not sure I'm the poetry type..."

"It doesn't have to be poetry," Joshua assured.  "Just a way to get your feelings out.  To organize them.  And then maybe, at least sometimes, you can share them with others.  You're right that you are the oldest.  But you haven't been Andrew's and JenniAnn's child for the longest.  That's Shelby.  And I think she would be able to give you some helpful context when it comes to your parents.  She's seen them come through so much together.  She did grow up with them, Max."

"That's very true.  I guess I sometimes don't think about that.  I hate the idea of unloading on a teenager, though.  But..."  Max flipped through the journal.  "I won't be.  I'll get my thoughts in order.  And... and then I can talk to her and to Violeta... without being a total mess."

"Exactly."  Joshua beamed.  "I didn't just give you parents, Max.  I gave you sisters and a brother, too.  And two of your sisters are more than capable of helping you, of listening to you."

With tears welling again, Max nodded.

"Yeah... yeah, they are.  And..."  He reached for Joshua's hand.  "Thank you.  I wouldn't have them without you."

"You're very welcome.  I love you, Max.  I love you and I love every member of your family.  And I'm always, always here.  Even when you can't see me," Joshua reminded, squeezing Max's hand.

"I know.  And I love you, too, Josh."

Joshua stood and, when Max followed suit, hugged him tightly.

"Good talk.  Now... how about some breakfast?" Joshua offered.

Max patted his stomach which had begun to grumble.


When the two re-entered the house, they saw that Shelby and Violeta had woken up.  In spite of their grogginess, they immediately noticed that Max had been crying.

Joshua looked on with pride and happiness as Shelby and Violeta wrapped their brother in a hug.

The End

Works Cited:
"Dark Waltz" by Frank Musker/Matteo Saggese/Umberto Morasca
John 20:24-29- Thomas sees Jesus
"Bei Mir Bistu Shein" by Jacob Jacobs and Sholom Secunda (Yiddish) and Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin (English rewrite)
The Gavotte dance
Song of Solomon 6:3- I am my beloved and my beloved is mine
Luke 4:23- "Physician, heal thyself"
"The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for reminding us of God's loving presence... even when we can't see Him.

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(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.)