By SEAN DIETRICH
This supernatural cherub was a gift from her mother, long ago. It all started when Erin was six years old. Her dying mother called Erin to her sickbed, said a prayer, and gifted her daughter an angel. Simple as that.
After her mother passed, Erin was raised by her grandmother in a ramshackle house near the railroad tracks. Times were not easy. Her grandmother was a single parent, and kids ain’t cheap. Simple as that.
“We ate a lot of Hamburger Helper,” said Erin. “And we shopped at thrift stores.”
But an angel is worth a lot more than greenbacks. Especially an angel like hers, who has made himself evident at pivotal moments throughout her life.
There was the time in elementary school when Erin fell off a low balcony at her friend’s house. When she opened her eyes, she was in no pain. The doc couldn’t believe what he saw. Not a bone broken.
There was the time in high school when she was driving on the interstate. A voice inside Erin said, “Take the exit, and wait at the gas station.”
She did. On that same highway, on that same night, an auto collision occurred involving an eighteen-wheeler. Four people died.
There was the time when Erin was engaged to a young man whom she thought she loved. The wedding was fast approaching, but something inside her said, “This is wrong. Do not marry him.”
She called off the ceremony, simple as that.
Erin gave back the wedding gifts. She returned the ring. And many years later, Erin realizes she made the right call. The man she might have married has already been remarried thrice.
Another time, she was in an apartment building visiting a friend. There was a man in the hallway who looked suspicious. He was standing too close to her.
When Sarah brushed past him, the man’s stern face gave away his intentions. He obviously wasn’t there to play patty cake.
Erin ordered him to stay away from her. Amazingly, the man’s disposition changed immediately. It was as though the man saw something towering behind her shoulder. Something about the size of Shaquille O’Neal. She walked away unharmed. Simple as that.
Later, she read in the paper that two women had been raped in that apartment building.
Erin could tell you more stories. But we don’t have all day, and you get the gist.
A few years ago, Erin was combing through her grandmother’s attic, searching for Christmas decorations. The attic housed many of her mother’s old things.
There was the old steamer trunk. The antique writing desk. There were several creepy old mannequins.
Which brings up a very important point. Why do people have mannequins in their attics? And at what time in history did the average residential family feel the need to own more than one mannequin?
Also in the attic she found a wooden box filled with trinkets. Her mother’s old Bible with a cracked pleather cover. Ornate perfume bottles. Stacks of postcards from people Erin never met.
And a journal.
It wasn’t a big diary, but when she flipped through the yellowed pages she found teenage drawings on the interior flap. And her mother’s writings.
One page read something like this:
“August, 1962. I met my angel today. He saved my life when I got bit by the snake in our driveway… Mom said I’m lucky to be alive…”
And another, which read something along the lines of:
“Angel, thank you for helping Daddy find a job, you know how much he needs it.”
“Dear angel, please help me get pregnant. You know how badly Louis and I want to have a baby…”
“Angel, help me not be so afraid.”
“January, 1980. I’m pregnant! The doctors said it would never happen, but God proved them wrong! God is good! Thank you!”
Peach-sized tears filled Erin’s eyes as she read through each entry written upon brittle pages in her mother’s hand. She realized that her mother had not just given her an angel. The mother had given the child HER angel.
Erin treasured these things, and pondered them in her heart.
Which brings us to the present day. A few mornings ago, Erin was holding her eldest son in her lap, reading the work of some pathetically hapless columnist on Facebook.
At the time, her son had been at home with a cold all week, coughing and running a low-grade fever. She kissed his hot little forehead, and read the columnist’s words about angels.
And a voice inside her spoke.
“Something just told me it was time,” Erin told me later in an email. “I knew what I had to do.”
So she gave her son a sacred gift. The same gift her mother gave her a lifetime ago.
“I just thanked my mom for giving me her angel, and the I gave my angel to my son.”
The next morning her son’s fever broke.
Simple as that.