Inspired by and dedicated to Shelia Bennington
Shelia was an angel. Oh, you couldn’t see her wings because they had been broken as had her heart. She had been sent to make the lives of the people walking around her better but what she saw as she walked among the people around her had brought a tear from her eye and it had rolled down her cheek falling to the earth. The tear turned to class as it fell and it shattered at her feet when it hit the ground.
The tiny little musical bell like sound that was emitted form the tear was heard by only her. No one even saw her before when she first came. As she continued her passage across the world, she saw more and more of the horrors of this world and more tears fell, each delivering a beautiful little tinkling sound made by the splintering shards of sparking glass that scattered at the feet of those around her as they trampled over them. The fact that these people walked over the fragments of her pain made it worse. More tears fell.
She continued to try and do what she had been sent here for but with each step she took her feet seemed to get heavier and the growing heaviness in her soul weighed on her more and more with each step she took. One day she could do it no more.
She sat down. She could do it no more. That’s when her wings broke. They didn’t just break but they fell from her tired body and like her tears turned to class shattering behind her in thousands of little pieces. The tears stopped as her wings fell from her.
She was just as sad, just as heart broken, just as tired, but there were no more tears. They wouldn’t come.
She was an angel, or she had been. What was she now? She sat for days in the same spot without moving. She felt no hunger, no thirst, only the pain of what she had seen and what she had lost. What was she supposed to do now?
Through all the pain it finally came to her. Wings or not she was still an angel and she still had a job to do. She stood up and continued to walk. She walked for years, the pain and heaviness constantly with her. She helped where she could but somewhere along the way people began to see her.
At first a shadowy glimpse out of the corner of their eyes but as time passed, she became more a part of the world around her. Now when she reached out a hand to someone much more often than not, they reached back. Tonight however, tonight when she reached to help someone, the man had refused. Once again the pain resulted in her sitting down on a park bench wondering if she would ever get up again. Then someone reached out a hand to her first.
Shelia looked at the man not knowing what to do.
“Take my hand dear girl. You look so tired and like you could use some help.” The man had seen the young woman stumble and he had been afraid that she might be ill. She certainly didn’t look like someone who lived on the streets, but she did look lost. The sadness in her eyes had touched his heart like nothing before. He knew for some reason he had to help her if he could.
“But I’m supposed to be helping you?” Shelia could tell that the man was homeless and unable to help himself.
“Sweetheart, even those who don’t have a lot can help another every now and then and right now you’re the one who looks like she needs the help. I’ve got enough money in my pocket for a couple of cups of coffee and maybe you can tell me what has you so down?” The man’s hand was still extended, Shelia reached out and took it before she realized it.
The man, she found out his name was Doug, led her to a small diner not far from them and he ordered the two cups of coffee. Shelia wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do with it but felt it would be wrong not to try and look like she was drinking it, so that’s what she did.
Shelia managed to avoid talking about herself as much as she could, but she did get to hear Doug’s life story. He was a vet. He had fought in Desert Storm and been seriously injured. He told her that when he came back with half his face burned off his wife left him and finding a job with the way he looked hadn’t been easy over the years. With no family to go home to and jobs few and far between he had given up for a while. Lately he had found a way to make his life count again he told her. You see there were a lot of men and women in the same shoes he was in and now he was starting work in a rehab center for others like him. The people who had been thrown away when they came back from fighting for their country. He had already made a difference in one man’s life when he had found him lying on the streets and taken him to the center. That’s how he had gotten the job. They had hired him on the spot.
Shelia listen to the man’s story and realized that the man that Doug had helped was the one she had tried to reach out to earlier, but he had refused her help. This man had managed to do what she had not, and he wasn’t an angel. He was a down on his luck simple man who like her had given up, but found it in himself to have the strength to help another.
It was then that she realized you didn’t have to be an angel to help people, or maybe it was wings and a halo you didn’t need, you just need to be there and want to. Shelia had looked at what she had been doing all this time as just a job in a way, it wasn’t. It was more than that. You had to look past the ugliness of what people did to others. You had to look past the shortcomings. You had to look inside them. There was where you found the truth. There was where you found the hope. There was where you found the love. Shelia realized she had to leave right then.
“Doug I’ve got to go. You have no idea what you have done for me tonight. I know you’ll do well in your new job, and suddenly she did. I also know that you’ll find people who can and will look past the scars on your face. Shelia being what she was knew they were there but through her eyes they didn’t show. She reached out and touched his cheek and softly stroked it. I think you’ll be surprised to find out how your life may turn out. Think of me when you feel discouraged and who knows, I might show up when you least expect it.” Shelia didn’t have anymore time. She stood up and almost ran out the door.
Doug watched as the woman made her hasty retreat, but something happened just as she got on the other side of the glass door, or at least Doug thought it did. He shook his head to try and clear it and rubbed his eyes because he couldn’t have seen what he thought he just did.
The moment the young woman was on the other side of the door he could have sworn she grew glowing white wings. Those beautiful wings then started gracefully flapping and lifted Shelia into the air. The first time anyone, little on a woman, had touched his face since he had been back that wasn’t medically related and it had been that lovely young woman. Maybe she was an angel, maybe she wasn’t, but in that moment when she had touched him, he knew his life had turned around. She had been right. She had been sent to help him. Only she hadn’t known that.
The painting done by Shelia Bennington, a lady of great talent and inspiration.