She had been born on Christmas Day.
As the woman with the watery eye had mentioned to her mother, “She is your little Christmas gift, your little bundle of joy”.
And she was.
She had grown in a very happy home, and that joy had penetrated her very bones.
She had grown in body and soul and stood tall as one of life’s darlings.
She preferred to give happiness than to receive it.
There had been boyfriends but nothing that serious. Every time she felt she was falling in love, someone or something would cause a change in the way she lived.
She had met Patrick at a bus stop one yellowy autumn day and she told herself that this was the one. He proposed on New Year’s Eve and she had said yes.
“I was going to do it on December 25th but I didn’t want to overwhelm your birthday,” he had told her.
They were to be married on the following June, but that was a long time away. Life crossed her path, put its hand up and shouted ‘Stop’. Her father, worrying about his wife’s health, and on the way to the chemist, hadn’t noticed the bus.
Patrick called the wedding off, and she had made that condition permanent. Her mother was a widow now and needed all the support and help that came her way.
She told herself that it wouldn’t be forever, her mother would learn to live without her dad, and then she would set her life to rights; she’d finally settle down and find that one special person.
She remembered the day well, that day her mother dropped the groceries on the stairs. It was a small stroke they had told her. Things could go either way.
They went the dark way. Her mother saw things, and said things that were not her. The illness ate along her brain and chewed every last piece of her personality.
When her daughter held her mother’s hand, she couldn’t recognize her anymore.
Her mother tried to say something, so she put her ear to her mother’s mouth just as she had done when she was a child. She felt her mother’s hot breath caress her face.
“I love you,” said, her mother.
“And I will always watch over you, always look for the angel. I’ll be there.”
Her mother lived on for several more months, but it she never spoke of such things again. Love had been eaten by the disease, too.
They buried her mother on a Thursday.
On the way back from the cemetery she saw an angel of sorts. Just some random person riding a bicycle. She wondered if she had overtaken the bike that she would see her mum peddling away with a huge grin on her face.
Then she did a strange thing. She decided to follow the angel. She did so through the town square, and through the old streets of the western half, then the cyclist disappeared down through a wooden gate. She couldn’t follow anymore but next to the gate was a young man, attempting to get a cat down from the tree.
“I don’t suppose you could help me?” He asked.
And she did help him, as he helped her.
Now she was sitting at the Christmas Day fire thinking of the old days.
“Tell you grandchildren, honey, how we met, how you followed the angel.”
bobby stevenson 2017