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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Rest (06/14/04)

TITLE: Peaceful Angel at Rest
By Joanne Malley


Peaceful Angel at Rest
by Joanne Malley

It was the early 1970's, when those "groovy" fashions were still sweeping the nation and there was a peace sign wherever you went. My mother shrieks when she recalls how she felt forced to wear skirts that were jacked up a "little too high" for her comfort zone.

In the midst of getting dressed in an outfit from "the worst fashion era," (as she put it), the phone rang. It was a beautiful May afternoon many years ago and my family was scurrying around in an effort to get dressed and out of the house on time for my brother's eigth grade graduation.

My mom, eager to finish getting ready, quickly ran to the phone completely unzipped, and answered it. "Hello..........OH, NO, PLEASE GOD, NO!" cried my mother, as she dropped the phone and broke down at the shocking news.

My grandmother was on the other end delivering the horrifying news that my cousin died an untimely death at the age of twenty-one from a brain aneurism.

We all managed somehow to get through my brother's graduation in a bewildered state. It was an extremely sad day and my gloomy memories of it stuck with me for many years.

At my cousin's wake, I remember that her fiance' never left the side of her casket. I also recall standing with my grandmother looking on at my cousin, Janet. Through her tears she said, "she looks like a peaceful angel at rest." Those words fell upon my ears with the most deafening reality that my cousin really was gone and was never coming back.

At the time, I was eight and this was the first family loss I experienced. It was so frightening for me, and it has never left the memory banks of my mind. I think the fact that she was so young made me realize my own mortality and I feared death for a very long time.

From shortly after the funeral, until after I reached the age of twenty-two, I carried around a periodic anxiety that I would experience the same demise. I almost held my breath until I turned twenty-two, because that number must have signified the safety zone to me. At the time, I didn't know how to give my heavy burden to the Lord. "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew, 11:28-30, NIV.

When I became old enough to understand the impact that such a loss has on a parent, each time I saw my aunt and uncle, my heart would break for them at the loss of their only child.

I don't know if they ever trusted in the fact that the Lord would bring rest to their souls, but I certainly know that through the years of their heartbreak, it would be almost impossible for them to rest over the greatest loss of their lives.

* * * * * * * * * *

To this day, I will never forget her face; she truly was beautiful and did look like a peaceful angel at rest.

It never dawned on me until recently that almost every room of my home has at least one angel figurine or picture in it. My grandmother also shared the same love for angels. Perhaps, it's our symbolic way of keeping her with us after all these years.

Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Bumgarner06/28/04
Very touching and cohesive. Well done!
Annette Agnello06/28/04
You left out something very important. Where did your cousin stand with God. Believer, or non-believer makes a big difference in the ending.
L.M. Lee06/29/04
one of my co-worker's sister was dying of cancer. since she knew she was leaving, she planned. at the funeral she had the minister give each of the family an angel figurine. it was the most touching part of the funeral.
Deborah Porter 06/29/04
Joanne, what a terrible tragedy for your family. I'm not surprised the event has stayed so clear in your mind all these years. The picture of your cousin's fiance just standing there by her casket all the time, moved me to tears.

The only thing that threw me a bit was that you started the piece in a way that had me thinking I was about to read something "light-hearted". When it switched to such a tragedy, it took a moment to adjust to the change of direction in the third paragraph. Other than that, it was a very moving piece. With love, Deb
Melanie Kerr 06/30/04
I agree with Debbie, the change in tone of your article is very swift. You set us up for something almost humourous, but then pull us right down. The story itself was written with compassion and feeling.
Theresa Knight07/02/04
Very well done. Thanks for sharing.
Marcell Billinghurst07/03/04
I was very touched and moved by your story. Writing down our memories about our loved ones often brings a release and gives us more perspective on life's traumas. God bless you from Marcell
Johnson O.J. Arumona07/04/04
Good story. It remind me of when I lost my friend, Betty whom I was to marry in year 2001. one may be relieved from the shock but the pain and memory lives on.if not for the Lord who 'heals every broken heart. The gravity of such pain is not explanable! Thanks for sgaring your story.