Several hours before I could actually see the things that have made many think I’m insane I prayed a unique prayer. It was about a year after my parent’s death and right after the departure of a dear friend during the hardest, blackest time of my grief. It's funny how time works. And how we measure it. I used to measure my life by thirds because we had moved three times in my life, my parents and I. Now I measure my life by their death.
Before their death.
There are no days or hours or minutes or seconds left out of those two periods.
I fell asleep shortly after praying the prayer that would change my life.
And I awoke to voices unlike any I had ever heard.
God answered my prayer after the haze of grief had faded a bit.
Later, when I considered it I knew it was for the best. I would have been too angry and upset to have held that precious, precious gift earlier in the year.
The voices were full of light and gravity.
If purity had a sound, it would sound like their voices.
All sweet and all lovely and yet serious and wondering.
I opened my eyes to find the room dark, though moonlight came streaming through the window at the end of the room. My eyes were bleary. I blinked, trying to focus on that light…those voices that had awoken me…
It was about 3:00 in the morning.
I sat up and rubbed a fist against an eye, trying to hear the words those celestial voices were pronouncing. They were understandable words very clearly said…though…it seemed as though I could not comprehend them. I frowned. I heard my name.
Then, all at once, the voices and figures in the moonlight came clear.
My mouth dropped open. That wasn't moonlight. The figures were the moonlight!
I tossed my covers off. They had not noticed me.
I began to really listen to their conversation and found my heart ached at the beauty that was presented to my ears at their voices.
I swung my feet around to the edge of the bed and set them on the cold, hard wood of the floor.
All the other girls were sleeping.
But I instantly knew why they could not hear the beings.
Only I could.
Because of my prayer.
“…but Michael said that I was assigned this one for a reason so how could I argue?”
One of them was shorter than the other. She had long, blonde flowing hair and eyes that looked like…like the stars were in them.
The other one was a little taller but her hair was more gold and her eyes looked more the color of her shining hair than anything.
“What is your human’s name, Crystal?” The taller one addressed the short one.
“Meredith Windsor. And, may I question why you are here, Celine?”
“Michael said you may need reinforcements soon.”
“Yes. With Meredith.”
Celine cast a look my way. When she saw me awake, sitting up, she did not seem surprised. She, instead, tilted her head and studied me in a way that made me feel as though I were the greatest mystery on the planet.
“Tell me again, Crystal, why is it that humans sleep so much?”
“They can’t function well without it is why.”
“Why is Meredith up now?”
Crystal looked at me, and seemed concerned for a moment. “I’m not sure. In the beginning, after her parents fell asleep, she couldn’t sleep at all, poor thing. I kept on reminding her that she would see them again soon enough. But…she was miserable for a long while.”
Celine nodded thoughtfully. “Don’t forget, Crystal, we see those who fell into the long sleep on earth in heaven more often than these poor creatures will for a long time to their minds.”
I frowned. Fell into the long sleep? Does that mean death?
Crystal sighed, and the sound was full of a type of sadness and curiosity. I wasn’t sure how a sigh could be curious, but it was. “I don’t like Death. He steels so much happiness from these people who are struggling to find it anyway. Celine, have you...ever met him?”
“Death?” Celine nodded.
“What’s he like?”
“He is tormented, Crystal. God has commanded him to serve both Lu…hell and heaven.”
“Could you tell me why? Nobody has told me that story. It seems as though nobody wants to. Why is Death so hated?”
Celine seemed to consider something for a moment. I stood up and walked toward them, pretending I couldn’t hear anything. I sat down in front of the window in between them and stared out at the sky. They sat down next to me and, for an unexplainable moment, I felt myself soaring up into that starry night right outside the window. I sighed and fell onto my back, closing my eyes so I could focus on their voices.
“Death would choose neither God nor Satan when God ordered all the angels to either come to Him or go over to…well…Lucifer was his name then. It was right after the war. God was giving even those who fought on Lucifer’s side another chance. During the war Death did not fight for either God or Satan. And when God gave him one more choice to make he did not choose.”
“What did God do? After he cast Lucifer from heaven with a third of the angels, I mean. What did he do to Death?”
“He did nothing.”
“Well, Death went to God and asked what was to become of him.”
“What did God say?”
I peered out through lashes lined with the light of the angels to see Celine close her eyes. I saw a trembling course through her body. Celine then opened them, looked down at me, and reached out to touch my hair, though I felt nothing. She seemed not to notice that I was looking at her.
“I suppose you weren’t there, were you Crystal? You were made after the Dividing of Angels. The look that our Lord gave Death…it was full of such extraordinary pain…”
Celine looked up at the stars. “But then God turned away. ‘No, what is to become of me?’ Death pleaded. ‘You belong neither with Me nor with Satan. You did not choose. Though I gave more than one chance. And enough time for you to think over everything. Your choice has been lost now. Your fate, along with the fate of all the angels, has been sealed. I told all of you again and again that now was the moment for decision. But now I have abolished time from heaven in order to prepare it. And, in doing so, the eternity of all of My servants and all of Satan’s servants and of Satan himself have been sealed.’ ‘But what of me?’ Death asked. And God said that Death would never belong anywhere now.”
“But…but why?” Crystal stammered. “He was sorry that he had—”
“No. He wasn’t, Crystal. He justified himself in his own heart and by doing so sealed up his fate unto the day of punishment.”
“What did Death do then?” Crystal finally asked.
“He fell at God’s feet and begged God to give him some duty. For an angel without a purpose is the angel that is shunned, cut off, and never spoken to again. It’s as if he has never existed for nobody sees him. And there is no way to end such an existence as that once it has begun. It’s worse than any suffering a demon can afflict upon an angel.”
“Why did Death receive no mercy, Celine?”
“He received too much mercy, Crystal. But there is a time for mercy and forgiveness and...there is a time for judgment and justice. Because Death was lukewarm. And our Lord hates lukewarm. He would rather hot or cold. But never, never lukewarm. God finally heeded Death’s voice and gave him a duty worthy of the choice he had made to neither become one of Satan’s minions or to stay a servant of God. God’s voice rang out among the heavens and among the worlds that he had just created, though, at the time, not many of us in heaven realized that God had created the worlds. ‘Death,’ God said, ‘since you have been neither hot nor cold I shall spew you from my mouth. I have made two new creatures in my image upon a planet I have named Earth.’ There was a faint murmuring here, as we did not know that God had done this yet. Michael and Gabriel knew. God oft shares His plans with them. I remember…” Celine stopped and started again. “I remember sadness crossing our Lord’s face. I did not know the cause of it then as I do now. It only brought wetness to my eyes to see it upon his face for I had never seen such pain before upon Him. I did not know what tears were then. I had never even felt sadness. I was a rather young angel, you understand. The Son came to me and wiped them away and asked what was wrong and I replied it was the pain on His face that made the strange wet things bead up and fall down my cheeks. I didn’t know what tears were then. I didn’t know what they were for or what they meant…” Celine stopped and sighed a bit. “I have seen too many tears now. I have learned they almost always mean sorrow. They almost always mean there is too much pain in a human’s heart. How many, many tears have fallen in the short 6,721 years this planet has lived…”
“Celine…what did our Lord say to you when you told Him why you cried?”
Celine smiled and I could see—actually see—the memory in her eyes. I caught a glimpse of intense—though diluted—power and glory. I had to look away. Celine continued her tale. “He only smiled at me in that way of His—you know the smile—and said for me to listen to His Father while He was speaking. So I listened. And God said, ‘The creatures upon the earth are called man and woman. They very soon shall sin against me. And their punishment shall be separation from Me until I send my Son to save them from themselves and from Satan and his demons. But I shall also punish them in this way. They shall have an appointed time to die physically. It shall be Death’s purpose to give the soul to either Me or to the adversary. At this time there are only two souls. But there shall be countless. Death shall separate their soul from their body at the appointed time and, according to that soul’s belief—whether it be in acceptance of the truth of my Son or in rejection—Death shall escort that soul to where it belongs.’”
“Has he ever made a mistake about where they belong?” Crystal whispered.
They were silent for a long time after that.
I got up and went back to bed.
I could reveal my secret to them later.
That was the day my whole perspective on life shifted.
There is a whole lot more to life than the physical.
Those who believe otherwise are fools.
Absolute, utter fools.
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