already the second
Sunday of November, Lady JenniAnn had decided it was time to see to it
that Andrew's wardrobe was properly arranged for the winter
months. There was, of course, a very real chance that Andrew
didn't actually use his closet in the typical way. While it
never seemed appropriate to ask Andrew how he got dressed, there had
been giggly discussion of it amongst some of his female friends and
admirers. Even though some believed he simply bounded out of bed,
impeccably dressed and ready to go, no one could be sure. If
pushing his light T-shirts to the back of the closet and bringing his
heavy shirts to the front was useful to him then it was all the more
reason to proceed. If not then it didn't matter because no one
was likely to turn down the chance to spend quality time with the angel
and his clothes. And so JenniAnn, Lady Beth, Rose, Yva, and
Andrew had spent a good hour winterizing his closet.
I owe everyone coffee
or something after all that work," Andrew announced as he surveyed his
newly organized closet with a smile.
her head. "You
don't owe us anything, Andrew. Like we need reward for going
through your clothes." She grinned as she touched the sleeve of a
particularly well-appreciated flannel shirt.
like to nonetheless,"
Andrew protested. "And since I go back to assignments next
Monday... I'd like to do this while we can."
you're offering, I'm going!"
Lady Beth agreed, heading to the hallway.
looked to the chair the older of the two was sitting in, one
of his coats spread across her lap. Rose
sat near JenniAnn digging through a tin.
one!" Rose declared,
pulling a button out of the tin and handing it to JenniAnn.
took the button and then picked up the needle beside her and glanced up
at the angel. "Aww, thanks, Andrew. I'll be right
there. Just wanna get this button replaced. You all go on
want but, really, it's
okay. Andrew, I promise I won't go looking for your journal,"
JenniAnn teased as she began to attach the button.
chuckled. "I trust
you. You'd be bored by it, anyway."
happening." Rose laughed at the very idea of any of them
finding anything about their friend boring.
don't you go on ahead and
save us a table," Lady Beth suggested.
raised an eye brow.
Leaving JenniAnn alone in his room to mend his coat seemed reasonable
enough but all
four of them? Something was up...
immediately noticed Andrew's
skepticism. "Let's all go, let JenniAnn work in peace while we
save her a seat, and then she'll be right with us."
shrugged. "If we
keep discussing it I figure JenniAnn'll be done before any of us make
it out of here."
smiled, intent on her
work. "You know I tend to get perfectionist about this kinda
stuff, really, go ahead."
Andrew agreed and the
four left the room, Yva giving JenniAnn a wink before stepping into the
hallway. Once the coast was clear, JenniAnn tied off her knot and
dashed to her purse. She pulled out a number of folded bits of
paper. After checking the hallway she approached Andrew's closet
and began sticking the notes in the pockets of his pants and coats and
God, if You could see to
it that Andrew leaves here next Monday with some of these clothes...
we'd really appreciate it," she prayed as she worked. "We know
that sometimes his assignments are difficult and even, well, mean so if
You could just make sure he gets our notes when he needs em...
Thanks. Amen." She crossed herself, then deposited the
last of the notes, and hung up Andrew's newly mended coat.
she picked up the tin of buttons and moved to replace it on the
closet shelf. To her annoyance, the shelf was much too
high. After rolling her eyes she jumped in an attempt to reach
the shelf. She tried again and got the tin onto the shelf but the
force of the toss dislodged something else. JenniAnn ducked out
of the way as another box flew off the shelf and onto the floor.
for fear she'd find
something broken, she glanced down at the floor.
Andrew glanced at
his pocket watch, nervous. "I don't care how much of a
perfectionist a person is. It does NOT take this long to sew on a
button. I better go check on her."
Yva, Rose, and Lady
Beth looked at each other. Andrew caught the silent exchange.
"She's not just
sewing on a button is she?" he questioned.
"Umm, well..." Rose
began, anxiously looking to the door.
"I'll go check on
JenniAnn," Yva offered.
Andrew shook his
head. "No, no I really think I should go. Order whatever
you'd like. I'll be right back."
The three women
watched as he left the Cafe.
"Well, I guess he's
going to find out about those notes. Oh well." Lady Beth
"I think something's going on. JenniAnn had that button
practically sewed on by the time we left. I noticed. It
doesn't take ten minutes to shove some notes in pockets."
"What else would
she be doing?" Yva pondered.
Andrew took the
stairs two at a time. "Laja, we were getting worried. What
are you..." His voice trailed off when he stepped into his room
and saw her sitting on the floor.
JenniAnn looked up
at him, tears in her eyes. "I... I didn't mean to pry. I
put the button tin back and... and this fell to the floor and...
I didn't open the journal."
surveyed the items cast
onto the floor. A tin type photo, a small book, a battered
Red Cross badge, a broken compass, muddied dog tags, and other
items. He sat down beside them and JenniAnn.
a journal," he
corrected, his voice almost too soft to hear. Andrew picked up
the book, opened it, and handed it back to the woman. "Bless
those who are dear to me, and may we find ourselves joyful together
when my service shall be finished," he recited from memory.
stared at the prayer
book and the familiar signature, dated 1968, inside it's
cover. She traced the "A" with her finger. "So it wasn't
just during World War II that you were a chaplain?"
shook his head. "I
was a military chaplain a few times." He picked up the dog tags,
running the chain through his fingers before closing his fist around
stared at the angel
clasping the tags, his eyes focused on his own fist. "I'm sorry,"
smiled sadly at
her. "You have nothing to be sorry for. I know you weren't
digging around for this."
even know this stuff
existed. I suppose a part of me didn't want it to. I don't
like thinking about you out..." JenniAnn caught herself.
She didn't want to risk silencing Andrew if he wished to speak.
"Do you want to talk about it? Or we can put everything
away and pretend this didn't..."
two okay?" Yva
called from the hallway. "I'm starting to think this room is
some sort of black hole that people get sucked in..." She, Rose,
and Lady Beth paused when they entered the room and saw Andrew and
JenniAnn sitting on the floor, the wartime paraphernalia spread out
last let go of the dog
tags and looked up at the three women. "Hi," he greeted lamely.
okay?" Rose echoed
Yva's unanswered question as the newcomers all sat down, eyeing the
items on the ground.
contemplative." The angel drew his hand through his hair and then
forced a smile.
umm, box fell when I was
trying to put the buttons away," JenniAnn explained.
usually not here," Andrew
explained. "I had it because Mick and I got to talking about
World War II one night and I'd brought this box here and I guess never
brought it Home."
eyed each item, able
to place many of them within their appropriate time frame. The
Civil War photo, the Red Cross badge from the First World War, the
World War II dog tags, the Vietnam era prayer book. "You... you
were in all these wars?"
others. Most angels of death and many caseworkers spend some time
on the battlefields. Usually as Red Cross workers or chaplains."
must be very
difficult." Rose gently lifted the photograph for a better look,
noting a bearded Andrew clustered among a group of chaplains.
took in a deep breath,
struggling to maintain an even tone. "It is but it's rewarding,
too. I witnessed a lot of bravery and... and
compassion. It wasn't just... I don't only remember the violence."
squeezed his hand,
sensing that while the horrors of war may not be Andrew's only
memories, at that moment they had risen to the surface.
stared at one item no
one had yet touched. Tentatively, he reached for the
aged paper. Carefully he unfolded it and smoothed it out
against his knee. For a moment he was unaware of his friends and
his bedroom. He was back in the "hootch" where he'd first
read the note.
about the times I poked
fun at you about the God thing. I guess if you're reading this
then I'm finding out if the Big Guy's real or not. Damned thing
is lately you got me thinking he is. And right now I'm real
glad about that.
you get out of this place
soon, Andrew. When you get home have a ginger ale for me.
Enjoy your life, remember the good, try to let go of the bad and carry
stared at the note, moved
once again by Jack's words and the memory of the day he'd gone Home,
another victim of Bouncing Betty.
jingling shook Andrew out
of his flashback. He noticed then that JenniAnn had left the
room. When he turned around he saw that she was returning with
Lulu in her arms. She knelt beside Andrew and set the basset
hound in his lap.
"I had to
wake her up but
we thought she'd want to be with you," she explained.
rested his forehead
against the dog's and rubbed behind her ears. "There's my girl,"
he whispered adding a "thank you" after a sloppy kiss.
accomplished, Lulu curled
up in the angel's lap as he continued to stroke her head.
going to be okay,
Andrew?" Lady Beth studied him.
nodded. "That note
I was reading was from a soldier I met in Vietnam. He must have
known his time was coming because he wrote everyone in the platoon a
note. They found them when they packed up his bunk. His
final message to me was 'Enjoy your life, remember the good, try to let
go of the bad and carry on.' So that's what I'm going to do," he
want some help putting
things away?" Yva offered.
that, thank you."
women reverently picked
up the assorted items and gave them to Andrew to secure in the
box. Once packed, he stared at the contents for a moment and then
closed the box. Handing Lulu off to Rose, the angel stood up and
slid the box back onto the shelf from which it had come. Andrew
knew that he could close and put away the box but he would never fully
shut out the memories of his assignments. Nor would he ever want
to. The recollections of the friendships built under the most
difficult of circumstances would sustain him and help him to carry on
just as Jack had wished all those years before
It was brisk but
sunny as Tuesday began in Dyeland. While making his
morning coffee, Andrew noticed his calendar. Veteran's Day.
This year would be especially poignant for Andrew, coming only two days
after the incident with his memory box. The angel of death
closed his eyes and prayed for those currently away from their families
and serving their countries. He prayed, too, for the families
whose loved ones had never come back home. Yet again he thought
back on his own memories.
Andrew was getting
ready to pour his coffee when the doorbell rang. A visitor at
8:00 was uncommon but not unheard of in Dyeland. However, Andrew
did grow curious when he glanced out the window and saw nothing.
Confused, he opened the door and stared down at his stoop. A
vase of white carnations, like those he sometimes left on the graves
of men and women he'd served with, sat there.
Andrew stooped the pick
up the vase. A card poked out from amid the blossoms.
Andrew plucked it out and read:
moments of terror, yours was
a voice of love. When violence was all around, you were gentle
and consoling. You left eternal peace to face war and in doing
that brought God's peace to those you met. Some gave their lives,
you gave your heart, Andrew. Thank you.
choked up as he surveyed
the signatures that filled the card. Almost everyone in Dyeland
had signed it. The only names that were missing were
his fellow angels. Andrew took that to mean they, too, would be
waking up to the same loving token of appreciation.
of a twig made Andrew
look up. A few yards away there was a cluster of his friends,
watching. When his gaze met theirs, they approached.
morning, Andrew. We
weren't sure if you'd want to be alone for a while or not," Rose
gone right back
inside we were just going to leave and not let you know we'd been
waiting," Yva added.
sat down the vase and
hugged each of them. "Of course I want to see you. Thank
you. This is... it's beautiful and means so much to me."
want you to know that
all you've done... it's not forgotten, Andrew, and it never will be,"
JenniAnn vowed as he hugged her.
knew she spoke
truthfully. Just as the sacrifices of those who had served
their countries would never be forgotten by those who came after them,
neither would the sacrifices of those created to serve God be forgotten
among the Dyelanders or those blessed to know the angels. Andrew
prayed that one day he would be working in a world without war, but
until then he and those like him would continue to bring peace and the
message of God's love to a world desperately in need of both.
A full version of the prayer Andrew
reads an excerpt from can be found here
It's referred to as "Night Prayer" there.