Linn Allen is a mother to four and wife to one. She recently moved from her beloved California to the freezing state of Massachusetts. She has a BA in Elementary Education, but prefers to take money, on occasion, from people who hire her as an organizational consultant. She loves teaching seminars on organization, reading, photography and organizing anything and anyone who will let her. But mostly, she just enjoys being a mom to four children who have not yet realized she still has no idea what in the world she is doing. This post was originally published on personal blog on October 15th, 2008. She also blogs about organization here. Welcome Linn!
One year ago today, my buddy Angel passed away. It was a day I was not expecting. At all. I thought he was getting better. I did not realize how sick he had become. His parents kept that quiet and I completely understand. And yet, the shock of hearing that he had passed away shook me to the core. I hated gathering my kids, after they came home from school, and telling them. We all cried a lot.
The first time I laid eyes on Angel, I knew he was different. He is the only child I have met that I honestly had the thought, “He is too good for this earth.” And he was. But selfishly, I didn’t want him to be. I wanted him to stay and be my little buddy. I don’t know why he loved me so much. I wish it was because of the person I am. But it really was not. It was because of the person that he was. His family lived in our same apartment building and we were outside together constantly. Every time we were out there, he always seemed to hang close to me for a good part of the time. He wanted us to be friends. And so did I. I still do.
I will never forget going over to his house, just a week before Christmas. He had not been to school, or outside, in a long time and I finally had to find out why. His family is extremely private and I worried about intruding. But I cared enough about Angel and his family that I had to go. His mom came outside and stood quietly for a minute. And then tears started streaming down her face and all she could say is “It’s back.” I wasn’t sure what she meant, but found myself crying. She finally composed herself enough to tell me that Angel had leukemia when he was four. He had been in remission for about three years. But it was back. And they had hospitalized him. Is there anything you can say to a mother who has just received this news? If there is, I didn’t know what is was. So I hugged her and told her how sorry I was. And then I went home and broke down.
Angel stayed in the hospital for many weeks. He came home in February and his homecoming was a bittersweet experience. He was so sick and so weak. Our whole neighborhood stood on the sidewalk leading to his house, while his parents wheeled him from the car in a wagon. His mom asked him if he wanted to go inside. He probably should have because he was so very ill. Just a skeleton of the little boy that I had seen last November. But he didn’t want to go inside. He asked if he could just sit on my lap. And he did. For a very long time. He was so light it was almost difficult to feel his weight on me. But the spirit that came from that little boy took my breath away.
And as the months went on, he seemed to get better. It took him a while before he could walk. He was in a wheelchair for a long time. That sweet boy wanted to be with me as much as he could. He came to church with our family for several weeks. I would take him in his wheelchair and he would stay as long as he could. As long as his tired body would let him. And then I would leave church and take him home to rest. He came over to the house whenever his parents would let him. He spent long periods of time, sitting on our big chair, watching March Madness with us. And when he would feel well enough, he would come outside to watch the other kids play. And he would sit on a chair right beside me, drawing or looking at books.
He grew stronger and eventually started to walk well and even ride his bike. He loved to play with the kids and his face would light up during his time with them. He still liked to come over to the house when he could and he and I would go on walks from time to time. The last time I saw him, he sat by my side drawing for quite a while. Then he told me he was tired and wanted to go home. I took his hand and helped him up the stairs to his apartment. He smiled at me and said goodbye. I told him I would see him soon. I didn’t realize that it would be “soon,” but only as far as eternity was concerned.
Right after that, he stopped coming outside. One afternoon the ambulance showed up to take him to the hospital. He came home that night and I was told he was fine, just weak. I wanted so much to see him, but as I mentioned, I hesitated to bother the family because they were so private. And because he was theirs and not mine. But I loved that little boy. With all of my heart.
Just a few nights after he had come home from the hospital, he asked to come see me. His mom slowly walked him over to our house, but I was not there. I had gone grocery shopping. And I’ve beat myself up about it many times. Why didn’t I feel strongly that I should stay home? Or did I and I just did not listen? I’m honestly not sure. How I wish I could have seen him once more.
And then just a few days later, and one year ago today, a neighbor knocked on the door. And told me that Angel had died. I couldn’t speak. I had no idea he was that sick. The family didn’t want any of us to know. And that was their place.
In the last 366 days, there have been very few that I have not thought of Angel. My little buddy that was truly too good for this world. And his mom. My mind cannot imagine what this has been like for her. I have been amazed by her strength. I have been able to share my testimony of life after death with her. Several, several times. I have told her I know that Angel is alive and well and that she can see him someday. That her love for him is not just for this life. That it was my privilege to be his friend. And that I look forward to the day that I get to see him again.
I will be forever grateful to Angel. He taught me about friendship and kindness and how to endure well. I miss him so much, but know he is exactly where he should be. Exactly where I want to be someday. But I have a lot of work before I get to that place. And I am so grateful for the chance to keep trying.