When Angels Sing

By
“The best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen,
nor touched, but are felt in the heart.”

-Helen Keller


I had opened this peeling old wooden red gate a thousand times before; I had no reason to suspect that this time would change our lives forever. As I hop along the fractured cement walkway, I notice the leafing apple tree. I reach the stairs and I bound up them, trying my best to take two or even three at a time, testing to see how far my five-year-old legs can reach. I walk up to the door and with a loud knock, knock, knock, I proudly announce my arrival. My uncle opens the door and to my surprise, my whole family is sitting on my grandma’s new white Victorian couches.

My grandma walks out of the back room and comes over to me. She bends down, and gives me the longest hug of my life. She turns her head, her coal black wig brushes my face, and for the first time I notice, I am the only one in the sea of faces, that is smiling. The faces of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and parents, are all dampened by tears and sorrow. A wind passes my ear and my attention is drawn back to my grandmother. In a raspy voice, weighed down by death’s cold touch, I hear words of comfort begin to form. “Everything will be alright, the angels are coming for YaYa*.” She then kisses me, leaving an imprint of Mary Kay Pink on my right cheek. Her embrace loosens, and careful not to make eye contact, I begin to walk with my head down towards my mother, noticing every grain and different shade of color within the wooden floors.

I climb on the couch beside my mother, with her arm around me I begin to probe the floral pattern, feeling every valley and ridge of the white fabric. I stare at the television, Antique Road Show is airing. I watch as the little treasure chest, dances across the screen, and the happy faces of guest who learn how much their treasure is worth. Time begins to pass, and with it my attention, for the world’s most boring show.

I get up and glide across the wooden floor in my socks, until I reach my crayons, and Toy Story coloring book. I make my way towards the two matching Victorian chairs on the far side of the room. I climb behind the chairs and begin to color in Slinky. After some time, my eyelids begin to droop, my head falls to my chest, as the crayon goes to the floor.

A warm silky hand brushes my cheek, my name is being called somewhere in the distance. My eyes begin to open, the world is blurred, and my grandma’s face comes into focus. Her hands wrap around mine, the warmth of her touch bringing me to alertness. “It’s time you should see YaYa,” she says to me. I stand and walk around to the back room. I reach for the brass door handle, and all the warmth within my body is stolen as I turn it. The door groans in pain, as I gently push it open. The room inside is lit by reading lamp, casting a yellow glow upon an open Bible.

I walk up to the bed and see a stranger lying there. She has the same thin gray hair, the same large mole above her nose, the same touch, the same smile, the same name, everything is the same, but yet so different. This lady is no longer the person whose lap I sat on at Christmas, only three months ago. She is no longer the lady who would always sneak me a cookie before dinner, who would sing Czech songs with me, or who would always make me laugh by taking out her teeth and making them tell jokes. No, she is in no way the same lady who I have grown to love. Only one thing remains the same and that is her strength.

Her hand lifts hardly an inch above the bed, I grab it, but feel no warmth. A small smile creeps across her face. I stand there, staring, not fully comprehending what is happening. And my grandma says to me, “The angels are coming in great chariots for YaYa, and the smile on her face is because the angels are singing to her. And if you listen hard enough you can here them too.” So I listened and listened and heard nothing, but I felt the song in my heart, I felt peace, I felt happiness, and I felt love. I put her hand down on the bed, feeling the pink wool blanket. I stood and kissed her on her forehead, and she felt warm. She was no longer a stranger, but she was once more my YaYa. I left the room, turned the corner, and saw the faces of my family members once again. And for the second time that night I was the only person within a sea of faces, who held a smile on his face.

I learned from that night that death is weak. That death is nothing but a word. It holds no power over any one person. And as long as they are remembered, then death can never win. For as long as the song of their memory plays within our hearts, death will always fail.




*YaYa Czech for great grandmother





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