DEATH and GOD’S ANGELS
MARY DE LA PEÑA, author of Scruggs and Samantha
I’ve been thinking too much about death lately, not because I consider myself morbid or anything, but rather grief is surrounding me bringing death up close and personal. It has me wondering how we survive having our faith tested by loss. Do we just fold our tents and give up, or do we find a purpose and reason to continue forward—or, does God send angels in different forms and personas to give us messages of hope and compassion?
Recently, a man who my husband considered not only one of his closest friends, but also his comrade in arms, died from cancer. The men were more than just friends; each had played a major role in saving the other’s life in in the jungles of Vietnam and Laos. But, it was more than just my husband’s loss, great as it was, Jack’s wife was also my dear friend and her grief brought into close focus the question of what I will do should my much older husband predecease me? It is that question that has spun me into fear, anticipatory loss, and panic—how can I live without him?
A few years ago I was surrounded by loss—my mother, my children’s paternal grandparents, my ex-husband, and too many cats, as well as a dog. It was the succession of losses that finally sent me on a journey to rescue an animal, truly believing that if I rescued an animal I would find meaning in my life. The quest became the catalyst for my book, Scruggs and Samantha, How a Shelter Dog and Kitten Saved Cinderella’s Marriage. Yet, more importantly, rescuing my golden dog Scruggs and the tiny black kitten (now a very overweight cat) brought into focus that God gives us angels in many forms, we only need to open our hearts and minds to see His gifts.
Here’s what I mean: Last Friday I was in the cafeteria of the local courthouse worrying about my clients and my husband. I was in a real funk, dragging my chin on the ground, convinced I had been forsaken. Lost in thought I have no idea from whence she came, but suddenly a woman appeared and placed a small booklet on my table. She said, “This will help,” and then she disappeared. I looked down and the book was entitled, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled.
Reaching for the booklet my hand felt as if it was shot through with an electric current—a peace settled over me as I opened it. I read, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” (Psalms 46:1) and “Cast thy burden unto the LORD, and He shall sustain thee.” (Psalms 55:22)
There was more, but the first few phrases broke my dissolute spell, and I felt my heart stir. Yes, I was still afraid, but at least I my faith in angels was restored. But, God came to me again. When I returned home that afternoon my dogs and Boo Bear, my new cat, did not leave my side. They stayed near me, sleeping on my feet, sitting on my lap, comforting me with their presence. My own precious angels were again working their magic.
So, as I ponder death, grief, and the anguish of loss after my friend’s funeral and internment in the National Cemetery, I am accompanied by my angel Boo, with my other angel Scruggs at my feet. Their presence gives me comfort, and I know that God will give me the strength I need by sending His angels to restore me when I most need them.
To all of you reading this, let not death frighten you. Let not loss deter you. For you are surrounded by angels, you only need to look, listen, and let them into your hearts.
For more on my precious angles, read Scruggs and Samantha, How a Shelter Dog and Kitten Saved Cinderella’s Marriage, available through Amazon.com.