For the past several days I’ve been working on an essay that would fit either a Chicken Soup Christmas title or an Angel-themed anthology. This morning while I finished it up I thought about the recent exchange with an “editor” in which she’d decided against an angel piece I’d written after accepting it just the day before.
“Unfortunately, there are no obvious signs of an angel encounter in your piece, like feathers or a coin of some sort.”
At the time, I just laughed it off. It seemed odd to me that an “angel expert” would require some tangible sign for an angel story. Isn’t that part and parcel of one’s faith? Believing without seeing? Yet, the current essay I’m writing delves into my desire for obvious signs of God’s care during the time of Jacob’s diagnosis and his surgery. I so wanted to feel my mother’s spirit there with us, and took great comfort in the smallest of things: a whiff of cigarette smoke, two words of a song my mother loved, and of course, the little feathers we kept finding on Jacob’s coat.
When I got dressed this morning I turned on the radio and found myself listening to a fundraiser for the very people who will be helping Jacob and his family enjoy a summer camp this August. I sat down on the bed to listen to an uplifting cancer story from a woman whose child was also treated at the University of Iowa and who is now cancer-free. Her child had liver cancer and ended up having a transplant after chemotherapy failed to get rid of it. As the mother talked about how cancer affects the entire family, I thought of Elizabeth’s family. When the mother described how she had to shut down emotionally and learn to just deal with each day as it came, it also reminded me of my daughter. I suddenly missed my mother more than ever. I busied myself with getting dressed to avoid the sadness that threatened to overwhelm me. When I reached for my make-up in the small basket I keep it in, this is the sight that greeted me: