Amy and the Angel
This is Amy’s story, not my story. I lovingly dedicate this work to Amy and all those like her: the women of this world who teach us love, teach us compassion and teach us about ourselves.
The storyteller, surrounded by children, spoke:
There once was a girl, born to darkness, sorrow and constant torment. She was like a slave to her parents, toiling all day and every day. Her mother didn’t love her and her father could only take from her, because he knew no other way. She was unloved. Hers was a sad life. She had no name. The angels called her Ellie.
Ellie left home, wandering on the mountain to find death, but death wouldn’t come. God took pity on Ellie, sending an angel, Rachel, to love her.
Rachel shone like a candle in the darkness, light and bright. Rachel loved Ellie more than any human being could love another. Ellie’s heart lay cold and wouldn’t know joy. Ellie had lived loveless too long. God told Rachel to teach love to Ellie, but though Rachel tried, Rachel could not.
God took Ellie away, to be with Him.
Sad for His angel, Rachel, God sent another mommy, Jane. The second mommy loved Rachel from the moment she saw her. She loved Rachel so thoroughly and so wholly, Rachel didn’t just learn love, she knew love. Jane made promises: I will take you off this mountain and show you all the wonders of the world. You shall want for nothing.
However, Rachel didn’t want for anything and all the wonders of the world had no value. Jane gave the angel the understanding she needed to love Ellie so thoroughly and wholly, Ellie could know love in her heart and be happy for eternity. Rachel thanked Jane for this gift beyond value. Jane, though it broke her heart, took Rachel to the lake and cast her into the sky to be with Ellie and God.
“Was the second mommy really, really sad?” The child’s question came on a breathless whisper.
“There are many different ways to be sad.” The teller dropped to a knee. “Of course, she was very sad, but the sadness filled her with joy. To love an angel, to hold her in life and death fills the soul with such a wonderful sadness, the tears turn to laughs. The pain becomes love. The sadness is so dark it becomes light again, and that light, that love washes over everything I, eh, she touches.”
“Are you the second mommy?” Wide, innocent eyes watched for the answer.
“No, little teddy bear. It’s just a story.”
“I’m not a teddy bear!”
Rumor held the library hired a storyteller for Saturday morning, and I’ve heard my share of storytellers both good and bad. I, myself, have weaved many a tale, both good and bad. Some days I’m on my game, some days not. Never before had such a simple story touched me so deeply and thoroughly. I confess: I was caught off guard. The purpose of my visit to the library was not to eavesdrop. I diverted my attention from what I should have been doing, using research as an excuse. I often amaze myself with what I find to do, when I should be doing something else.
I’m a pretty stoic guy. I don’t wear my feelings on my sleeve. I’m not sure if it was the story, the order of the words or the images evoked, but I forced back tears. The way the young woman carried herself pulled the sadness to the surface. She didn’t say the words. She created the words, putting them in my head. She was on her game. Funny thing is, she didn’t know I listened. She was completely engaged with the children, consumed by them and consuming them. She loved each child thoroughly and completely.
I was smitten, not in a romantic way. I’m old enough to be her grandfather. I waited patiently, something not in my character, while she hugged each child. Her embraces were like that of a mother sending a child off to war. Again, not to be redundant: her hugs were thorough and complete, with sad smile and closed eyes. I got the impression she shared her soul.
I didn’t think she was the second mommy from her story. I thought she was the angel. Aside from being stoic, I’m a card-carrying cynic. I wouldn’t believe someone an angel if she floated down from Heaven on a cloud right in front of me. There I stood, spellbound and agape. With great craft and articulation, I stammered out: “Eh, ah, oh, hmm. Nice story.” I haven’t been at a loss for words since the freshman dance, more decades ago than I care to admit.
Pale brown eyes finally noticed my hovering. She pulled a girl onto her lap as if afraid to let go. “Yeah, it’s my favorite.”
“Not a Grimm. Has a Norwegian flavor.”
The storyteller laughed delicately, winking. “It’s my story, really.”
“Oh, I gotcha. You made it up.”
“That’s not what I meant, but okay.”
“I weave a tale or two myself. I have many stories about my life, some have actually happened.”
She giggled a giggle that would make an angel cry. I was on my game.
“Do you like coffee?” I tilted my head, treating her to a coy smile.
“I love good coffee. Are you going to tell me one of your stories?”
“I’d rather hear yours. I’m a bit of a writer with a boring life, so I steal from others.”
She nodded. “Ply me with good coffee, and I’ll tell you a story. If you write it, I’ll deny ever having met you.”
The deal was struck. That afternoon, she got lunch out of me, too, Amy Louise Renfeld told me the story of the Angel who had two mommies. I, of course, have made adjustments, additions and subtractions for literary value.
The truth: I have a lousy memory.