The Forgotten Angel

"Life goes on, that's just what it does. When the wind blows, I will remember you, but you won't think of me. It's my curse and your blessing."

He sat on a stool in the crowded bar, watching patrons order and talk to the bartender while a small candle burned on the table. Most everyone was polite but loud, yelling to their comrades across the room what beer they wanted, or if they wanted honey or barbecue wings. It was a normal night for everyone, until she walked in.

She didn't catch his attention right away because she didn't do anything at first. The door closed behind her and she just stood in front of it, wondering what she should do. It was obvious that she didn't belong. Her beautiful white and black dress draped down a little past her knees, while her hands were being warmed by black mittens that stretched up to her elbows. Even her makeup was composed of dark colors, with her eyelashes being highlighted by a little bit of black. Her hair flowed down to her shoulders and waved around as she scanned the bar for seat.

The seat next to him was open and his eyes connected with hers for a moment as she was scanning. It took only that moment to know that everything was about to change. Slowly she made her way to the seat to his left and sat down, unsure of how to proceed. She had never been in a bar before and didn't know what to expect, or how to act casually. After a moment the bartender saw her and walked down her way.

"What can I do for you sweet thing?" The bartender asked, leaning up on the counter next to her. She hesitated for a moment, unsure of what to say. The man next to her looked her over, curious as to what she was doing in a bar when she was dressed like she had just come from a funeral.

In a soft voice she responded, "I'll take the strongest thing you have." The bartender chuckled and asked if she had ever had a drink in her life. "No, but I have never needed one before, either." He nodded and went back to make her drink.

Despite her mask of composure, she was so emotionally distraught that the man next to her could taste the tears she was fighting back. Again their gazes met, and this time he could see her beautiful but sad blue eyes. They were red from crying for most of the day. Neither of them said anything for a long moment, they simply stared at each other, trying to read the other person.

"My name is Randy," the man eventually said, breaking the silence but still staring intently into her eyes. She didn't respond at first, unsure of how to act in an unfamiliar environment with a man she didn't know.

"My name is Lisa, I don't normally come here." She sort of blurted out the last part, as if warning Randy that she probably wasn't his type. Randy gave a half smile at her comment.

"Neither do I." Randy replied. He gestured to the bartender. Lisa turned as the bartender was sliding her drink down the counter. She fumbled for it and barely grabbed the handle of the cup before it fell off the edge. Lisa bent over to smell the drink.

Not only had she never had alcohol before, she had never even been around it, so the smell was completely new to her. It was a strong odor, and it sent her reeling backwards as she had taken in a much larger whiff than she thought. Randy reached out and caught her back to keep her from falling, and as he touched her, visions of her pain and suffering raced through his mind.

Lisa steadied herself back onto her seat. She looked over and said, "thank you Randy. I wasn't expecting that." Randy chuckled.

"Do you have any idea what's in that drink you're holding?" Lisa shook her head. She didn't know and didn't care, as long as it would take away her pain, it was what she needed. Raising the mug to her lips, she held her breath and began to drink. It burned as it went down, but she kept on drinking as quickly as she could, hoping to get such a strong buzz she wouldn't even know where she was.

Lisa pounded down the empty mug on the table and took a deep breath. She waited for a moment to see what would happen. As she looked around, the lights began to glow brighter, he vision grew fuzzy, and her stomach felt sick. "I think I'm -" she began to say as her stomach had decided that it didn't approve of what she had just put into it. Lisa clutched her stomach and leaned forward as the alcohol came rushing back up. Unfortunately for Randy, the direction in which she turned was toward him, which meant that Lisa's regurgitated drink landed all over his pant legs and shoes.

The bartender saw the commotion and came over. Lisa slowly sat back up when he began to speak: "Look lady, I think it's time you leave. You clearly don't belong here and I don't want you running out my customers." Lisa looked at the bartender, then to Randy, then at the door. With the bitter taste of both the drink, and her vomit lingering in her mouth, she dashed for exit as quickly as possible.

-----

Randy cleaned up as best he could with some paper towels, but his shoes were hopelessly stained with Lisa's drink. He quickly rushed out of the bar when he finished to see where Lisa had run off to. It took him only a moment to spot her sitting in her small black car, crying on her wheel. His heart pained as he knew what she was going through.

Lisa looked up for a moment to wipe her tears away when she saw Randy walking at her. She was scared and started up the car. Randy moved faster to her, but she was already driving away, not wanting to face the man she had just thrown up all over.

"Please wait for me, I'll be there soon." Randy whispered and then set off after her car.

-----

Randy stopped in front of an apartment complex in the middle of downtown. It was 12:34 at night, and there were almost no lights on. The only light that was coming from a small window in apartment 13C. Looking up, he saw the outline of Lisa pacing between her bed and the door. He knew what she was trying to do and was almost out of time.

He ran up the steps and found the intercom button for her apartment. He pressed it and waited. There was no response for a minute. Randy pressed the button again. This time Lisa's voice came through. "Hello?" He hadn't thought it through this far, because now he didn't know what to say to not freak her out.

"Hi, how are you?" He slapped his forehead, knowing that was probably the most ridiculous thing he could have said.

"Who is this?" Lisa asked, snuffling in the process. She was still crying. Randy thought for a moment about what to say. He needed to say something that would let her allow him through the apartment doors.

"It's Randy, from the bar you never go to. I wanted to get some money from you to replace the shoes you ruined." It wasn't the truth, but he wouldn't mind if he got some new shoes. The intercom went silent for a moment as Lisa was thinking. Anybody that followed her home from a bar couldn't be good news, but she didn't really care anymore.

"The door's open," she sighed as the buzzer unlocked the apartment door. Randy smiled, he hadn't expected that to work. He opened the door and slowly walked up the stairs, taking deep breaths to calm himself. Even though he was used to this after so many times, his entire body would still shake. Finally he reached her door which was cracked open just a few inches, enough to see Lisa's face and a one hundred dollar bill she was holding out for him.

"I really am sorry about your shoes and pants." Randy looked into her eyes again, they were still wet with tears. "This should cover it, unless you have a really expensive taste in shoes." She made the joke but put no heart into it. Randy half smiled.

Randy walked up to the door until Lisa's face was only a foot away. "I'm not really looking for any money, I don't care about my clothes." Lisa tensed up, worried. "And I'm not here to hurt you, you can trust me." He said the words but she didn't believe them. She went to close the door and Randy stuck his foot in it before she could.

"Go away!" She screamed, trying harder to close the door. Randy didn't move his foot or back away.

"Lisa, listen to me. I know what you're going through right now." Lisa stopped trying to shut the door for just a moment. Randy let out a long sigh that was filled with pain and sorrow, just like Lisa was feeling. "I know about your problems with your husband, I know about the car accident that just took your family," he connected with her eyes again, "and I know about the drugs you have in your bedroom that are meant to end your life tonight." Lisa covered her open mouth with her hand.

"How do you know any of that? I've never seen you before tonight." A tear fell from her right eye, and landed on Randy's shoe.

"And I haven't seen you before tonight either. How I know isn't important right now, you are what's important, Lisa. Please let me in." She backed up into her apartment. Randy quietly slipped in and shut the door behind him. The apartment was small, with just the necessary furniture. A small candle burned on the table.

He kept his distance from her, not wanting to scare her away. "You can trust me Lisa, I'm here to help you."

"Tell me who you are and how you know everything that's going on in my life!" She was backed up against her wall, holding her elbows.

"My name is Randy and I know what's going on because I am meant to help you get through this." Randy took a small step forward to see how she would react. Lisa didn't move. "I'm here to show you that your life can go on even when you think it can't. I'm here to remind you that the world is so much bigger than your own problems. And I'm here to get you through tonight." He reached out his hand to grab her shoulder. She didn't pull back, but instead she collapsed into his arms.

Her tears flowed freely, too exhausted to care, in too much pain to try to stop. Randy pulled her close and held her tight. She cried and cried and just when Randy thought she wasn't going to be able to cry anymore, she somehow found more tears inside to let out. He led her to a couch where he pulled her close and just kept whispering in her ear that everything would be all right.

-----

Lisa fell asleep in his arms, exhausted, not caring anymore that he was still a stranger. It felt good to just have someone there for her after everyone else in her life had either left or been taken away.

When she woke up, it took her a moment to remember what had happened. The last person's arms she had woken up in were her husbands, but they couldn't be his because he had left and taken all of his love with him. Lisa looked up and saw Randy looking down on her. "Sleep well?" He asked.

She didn't know what it was, but Randy's eyes comforted her in a way she hadn't felt in months. Lisa nodded and sat up, Randy let go of her. "Thank-you," Lisa remarked, unsure of what else to say. She still didn't understand who he was or how he had shown up just in the nick of time. She'd had the cup of water in one hand, and the pills in the other when he had buzzed. It was almost like he was sent from God.

"I still don't even know who you are Randy. How did you find me?" Randy smiled at the question.

"Who I am doesn't matter. And I found you because I knew I needed to find you." He sighed. "I know I'm not giving you any of the answers that you want, and I'm afraid I'm not going to either. I just need you to trust me, because I'm here to help you."

All of her problems came rushing back to her. "How can you help me?" She demanded roughly. "You tell me you know what's going on, but do you know what it really feels like? Can you imagine what I'm going through?"

"Tell me." Randy said.

Lisa let loose. "I've been married for three years now and I thought everything was going great. I loved him and he loved me. We both had steady jobs, enough money coming in to support us financially and even enough to put some away for the home we wanted to buy. I thought that everything was perfect. And it was, until we found out that I couldn't get pregnant." Lisa began talking faster and with more emotion. "We both wanted to have our own kids so badly, to have a family that we could call our own. I had always imagined holding a little baby girl and looking into her eyes and giving her all my love. But I was the reason we couldn't! He blamed me, and I knew he was right. I was the reason that he got so angry, and I was the reason he left." She grabbed a note from the counter. "He didn't even have the decency to tell me in person! I came home from work two weeks ago and his stuff was gone and the only thing he left was this note. He told me that he couldn't be with me because I was broken and defective because I couldn't give him the family that he wanted so badly." She took a moment to take a breath. "He left because of me."

And she wasn't finished because that wasn't the only tragedy that had devastated Lisa's life recently. "And then last week!" She leaned on her wall. "They were coming down to cheer me up, because I needed support. If I had been stronger, if I hadn't been whining so much then they would still be alive!" Her eyes grew wet again. "I was just waiting on the stairs, looking at the moon, thinking how beautiful it was, when I saw them turn the corner. My entire family was in the car, my brother and sister, and my mom and dad. There was just one seat left that was for me, we were planning on having dinner and enjoying the night, something I hadn't done since he left." Lisa wandered over to her window and looked down onto the road, where the accident happened. "I remember standing up and waving at them, and then it happened so fast. A semi-truck's wheel blew out, causing the driver to lose control for just a moment, but it was a moment too long. The truck swerved and my family was too close…." She couldn't continue talking. "It's my fault for making them come! All of this is my fault!"

Lisa fell to the floor, crying again, unable to hold back the tears now that she finally letting it all out. Randy slowly stood up and walked over to her and bent down. He pulled her close again and just let her cry.

"Everything's going to be ok." Randy whispered. Lisa sniffled and looked up at him, staring into his comforting eyes. She wanted to believe it, simply because he said it, but she knew differently. She knew nothing would ever be all right again.

"Do you know what day it is?" Randy asked her. Lisa had to think for a moment.

"It's Sunday… the funeral was on Saturday, which I think was last night." Her memory of the previous night was still fuzzy, the entire day had passed by so quickly as she waited for the funeral, and then it was over before she even knew it had begun. Then she was at a bar, then back at home, and then she woke up in an unfamiliar man's arms. It had definitely been one of her stranger days.

Randy smiled. "Yes, it's Sunday. And it's morning." He picked her up. "I know that life seems impossible right now, like nothing will ever be the same. And you're right, that from here on out nothing will be the same, but that doesn't mean it has to be terrible." He walked her over to the sink and filled up a glass of water. She drank as he continued to speak. "I want to show you something that will forever change you, something you never could have seen before today."

Lisa finished off her glass. "What?" She asked, not able to understand much of what he was saying.

"For now, go take a shower and change your clothes. Try to wake up and prepare yourself for the day, because I'm going to introduce you to someone that you'll never forget."

-----

The steeple loomed high over all the nearby businesses and houses, casting a shadow over the parking lot that was filled to the brim with people getting out of their cars and walking inside the church. Randy watched as Lisa's expression changed from one of confusion, because she didn't understand why he was taking her to the local church, to one of skepticism. She had tried the whole "church" thing before when one of her friends had invited her, but it had never appealed to her and she hadn't thought about since then.

Randy led her into the church, where there were a lot of people dressed up in Sunday best, and others in every day clothes. They made their way into the auditorium, which could fit close to a thousand people. Lisa saw a few co-workers walking around, shaking people's hands. She silently wished that nobody would recognize her, because she really didn't care much for church and didn't want those around her to suddenly start talking to her about God and how stupid evolution seemed. Lisa looked down at the floor and sullenly followed Randy, wondering what his plan was.

As they found their seats, music began playing from the stage up front. The chords rang beautifully and echoed off of the walls and found themselves in Lisa's ears. She looked up, finding herself suddenly entranced by the music. The words came up on projectors for everyone to see and the entire room filled with singing. Lisa and Randy were the only two still sitting down and not singing along. They locked eyes again and Randy said, "don't worry about singing, all I ask is that you listen."

So she did. Lisa listened to the music which seemed to bypass her outer wall and penetrate her heart in a way that no music had. The words that came from everyone around her swirled around in her mind: 'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.' Lisa snorted out loud and then caught herself before anyone else heard. The last week of her life was the opposite of any sort of grace that would come down from God.

The music came and went and everyone sat down. Lisa looked around, happy that nobody seemed to spot her out of the crowd. The audience was talking amongst themselves for a moment before the pastor took the stage. He was an older gentleman, in his late sixties with a shiny bald head and a nice black suit. Lisa let out a long sigh, hoping to be able to get some sleep during the next hour if Randy would let her.

The pastor introduced himself and began the message. He seemed nice enough with a soft voice and a kind tone, but Lisa wasn't interested. She began to tune him out and lean back in her chair. Randy looked at her and began to pray.

The last words that Lisa heard before she dozed off were: "sometimes it takes God stripping away everything and everyone in our lives before we can truly see God…"

Lisa bolted upright. Everything was dark. She looked around, Randy was nowhere to be found. "There's no way that I slept through the whole thing and get left alone…" She trailed off because her attention had shifted to a small light far away. It shone brightly and began nearing her. As it got closer, she began to recognize what, or more precisely, who the light was: her run-away husband.

"Jeff?" Lisa asked incredulously, completely confused. Her husband didn't say anything, and he stopped short just a few feet in front of her. "Is that really you? What are you doing here?" Again no response came from him, he just kept emanating a steady stream of light. "Why did you just run away? You are such a coward! Couldn't you at least tell me where you were going? Answer me!" But then something else caught her attention.

Four more figures appeared, also giving off light in the distance. They gathered close around her and she could see her family. "Mom? Dad?" She looked at her brother and sister and her eyes grew wet. "What's going on?" Lisa looked around the room, with everyone there she could see clearly that it was her apartment they were standing in. Reaching out her hand to her husband, Lisa tried to touch his face one last time, but he vanished just as she was about to reach him.

With his disappearance, the room grew a little darker. Lisa panicked and looked at her family. Then things grew dark quickly. First her sister vanished, followed by her brother, and her dad. Lisa dropped to her knees and began to cry again. Her mom began to flicker, Lisa begged her not to go, but to no avail. The room became dark again.

"Do you understand yet?" A loud voice shook the entire room, catching her by surprise.

"Understand what?" Lisa asked, unsure of who she was asking.

"I gave you light to see, but instead of revealing the pathway it blinded you." The voice was strong and deep yet full of care and love.

"You gave me?" Lisa asked herself, working out who she was talking to; it was God. "You gave me my family? Does that mean that you took them away as well?" Anger began to build up inside of her.

"Do you understand yet?" The question rocked the room again and shook Lisa down to her core.

"No, I don't understand!" Lisa screamed. "I loved my family, and I loved my husband! Why would you take them from me when they were all I had? You've left me nobody in my life now! What's the point of going on?" She began to break down. The darkness seemed to consume her and feed the anger and pain that was welling up inside of her.

And then there was no darkness. Light filled up the entire room, a light so bright that Lisa had to cover her eyes. There was a figure in the light but she couldn't figure out who it was. And then she was warm. But it wasn't heat that warmed her, it was love. It was as if all the love from her husband and her family became tangible and was all around her. But then there was an affection that began to overwhelm her, a love so great that Lisa couldn't breathe. It warmed her, filled her, and made the pain of her loss seem miniscule to love that was surrounding her.

"Do you understand yet?" The man in front of her asked. Lisa tried to look up but couldn't see through his brilliance. He took her hand and pulled her from the ground. "Open your eyes and see." Then he was gone and she was left holding a candle. Its flame waved back and forth in her hand, slightly illuminating the room.

"Just tell me what you want me to understand, this doesn't make any sense to me." Lisa said. She stared at the flame, waiting for an answer. But all that followed was silence. The flame entranced her, she followed it back and forth, and back and forth. The candle was small and provided little light and minimal warmth.

Then her family and husband reappeared, lighting up the room. She looked at each of their faces again. They filled her with love and warmth as well. But with them around, she forgot about the candle. Lisa looked down at her hands, at the candle that seemed to do nothing for her with her family around. Then it began to make sense to her.

"Do you understand yet?" The voice came again, this time softly, old loud enough for Lisa to hear. She held up her candle and her family vanished, darkening the room again.

"Yes, I do." Lisa whispered.

She opened her eyes and found herself in the church again. The pastor was talking about Jesus Christ. "It's a choice that everyone has to make themselves. Your parents can't make it for you, your spouse can't force it upon you, and being in a church doesn't give it to you. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior? Have you seen him lately because you have nobody else to turn to? He is there, has been there, waiting for each of you to see and respond to him."

Lisa felt something in her hands and looked down. She was holding a candle. "I understand now." Randy looked at her, asking her to explain. "I've never given God a chance in my life because I have never felt a need for him. I've been loved by those around me, they have taken the place that God should have had. My husband and family gave me everything I needed and I couldn't see God until they were taken away. He's been the candle in my life since the beginning, but until there was nothing else around me, I never noticed Him."

Randy nodded. "So what now?"

"Now I figure out who God is, and who this Jesus is that the pastor is talking about." Lisa stood up to go and find the pastor. "I saw him…" Lisa said with her back to Randy. Randy looked at her. "I saw Jesus, and I felt his love for me. I want to feel that again."

Three weeks later

Lisa and a group of women were sitting in chairs, sipping coffee and laughing. It was Sunday night and their bible study was coming to a close. It hadn't taken much time for Lisa to find friends. They had found her, as if God had placed them exactly where they needed to be. She had found friends that were helping her to understand who she was and who God was, something that she couldn't see herself doing only a month ago. Since she became a Christian, everything had changed. But something was nagging her.

The ladies got up to put chairs away when Lisa spotted him outside the door. "Excuse me girls." Lisa said and almost ran out of the room. She opened the door and waiting in the hallway was Randy. Lisa ran up to him and threw her arms around him, he returned her embrace with love.

"It's good to see you Lisa." Randy said. Lisa was still hugging him.

"Where have you been? I haven't seen you for weeks now! It's like you just vanished" Lisa asked. Randy shrugged.

"I've been wandering around, thinking about you. I'm glad to see you've found some friends." Lisa smiled, looking back through the glass pane into the room full of women still laughing and cleaning up.

"It's all because you brought me here and introduced me to God." Lisa smiled. Randy had come into her life from out of nowhere and then vanished just as quickly. "Will you come meet the others?" She asked him. Randy shook his head.

"Not tonight." Lisa grew sad. "Do you believe in angels, Lisa?" Randy asked. The question caught her off guard.

"I don't really know. I believe they exist, but I don't know anything about them." She responded, confused by his question. "Why?"

The door opened and the women came out of the room in a long line. "Are you coming to dinner with us Lisa?" One of the women asked.

"Of course! I'll be there in a moment, I just need to finish talking to Randy." The woman smiled and looked down at her hand, looked back up confused, and then walked away, ignoring Randy completely. Lisa looked carefully at Randy and then gasped. "She couldn't see you!"

"No, she couldn't." Randy smiled. "Only you can see me right now." Lisa didn't know what to say or what to do. "I'll bet you believe in angels now." He laughed.

"But how? Why?" Lisa asked, still stunned at the revelation.

"I came into your life the moment you needed someone to be there for you, someone to point you in the right direction. And now that you're on the right path, it's my time to go." Randy explained, taking Lisa's hand. "It was wonderful to be there for you, and I will be praying for you and watching out for you, but now it's time for you to go on with your new life."

"But what will happen now?" Lisa asked, about to cry at the thought of forgetting him.

"Life goes on, that's just what it does. When the wind blows, I will remember of you, but you won't think of me. It's my curse and you're blessing." Randy took her hand and kissed it gently. Then it happened. It wasn't a sharp pain, but it felt like a knife. It wasn't a burn, but it raged inside of her. It wasn't a flash, but she became blind. Then it was over. Just like he had entered her life, he was now gone, not even a memory for her.

"Are you ready Lisa?" Her friend called from down the hall. Lisa was blank for a moment, not sure of what was going on. Her hand felt warm and she was waving it in front of her face. "Lisa?" Her friend asked again.

"I'm coming!" Lisa ran to catch up with the group. Randy stood in his spot, and watched her go. Lisa turned back one more time with the strangest feeling like somebody was watching over her.