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I can’t believe that I’m doing this, I thought with annoyed disbelief. I just can’t believe that I let her talk me into this. I was walking down a long, dank hallway in the basement of the First Congregational Church; the one and only Congregational Church in my small Upper Peninsula Michiganian town. A large lady in her late forties was guiding me down the hallway, making comments about all of the religious pictures that we passed. She had introduced herself as Shannon and, unlike me, she had as much faith in God as a bird has in its wings.
“Oh, and this one here is my favorite,” she said happily as we passed a picture of children praying. “I don’t know why, maybe because it gives me a sense of well-being. How about you, April? Does it give you a sense of well-being?”
Luckily, she didn’t turn around so she couldn’t spy me roll my eyes. Yeah, right, it does so not give me a sense of well-being. Just because those sweet little children are praying to God, hoping for an answer, doesn’t mean that they’re going to get one. I had found that out the hard way, and it still cuts my heart so deeply that I try not to think about it.
“Yeah, sure, I guess it does.” Was my bleak reply for as I was answering her question, I was painfully experiencing that awful, awful day. I felt the quick rush of tears coming and I angrily wiped my eyes before Shannon would turn around. Stupid, stupid, I thought to myself. I really, really need to leave the past and finally live the present. Do not bring that memory up again!
After a couple more minutes of tuning out each and every picture, Shannon finally turned around. “This is it,” she said with a glow pointing at a wooden door. “I know that you’ll love it, April.” I peered around her huge hips as she opened it. What I saw in that room almost killed me. Not because it was cool or fascinating, oh no, but because I was going to be doing this stuff for the next seven days. Sewing…just another thing for me to fail at in life.
In the room there were ten sewing machines with a girl about my age at everyone, but one (I assumed that that one was for me.) But, that wasn’t what almost gave me a heart attack. The thing that did that was the sight of all of the blankets, sweaters, and socks that were piled up in the middle of the room. The girls had sown all of those things by themselves and I would have to, too.
“Well, there you go,” Shannon said cheerily as she pointed to the empty sewing machine. “You’ll be working at that machine. Hope that you have fun!” She winked at me as she walked out and I forced a very fake smile back.
After she was gone I took my place at the sewing machine. Surprisingly, only one girl glanced up at me as I sat down. She smiled and I couldn’t help but notice the dimples that indented her face when she did. She swiftly slid her chair toward me; her curly brown locks of hair swung back and forth as she did so. When she was next to me, she whispered, “Hi, you must be the new girl that they told us about. I’m Anya.” She offered me her hand, and after a slight moment of hesitation, I awkwardly shook it. “I’m April.”
“Nice to meet you,” she replied with another friendly smile. “So, what are you here for?” When I gave her a weird look, she said quickly, “Well, most of us are sent here for counseling. We were all told that this would help us piece our lives back together. Most everyone here has a problem whether it’s drinking or smoking to losing a love one or two.” When she mentioned loved ones, I saw a quick flash of pain cross her eyes, but it was soon gone. I also put my head down when she mentioned that particular subject, again, angrily brushing away tears that I didn’t want her to see.
I was awakened out of my thoughts when Anya said, “So, anything in particular that you want to talk about?” Surprisingly, I looked at her and I knew that I could trust her. Besides I had to tell somebody before I blew my top.
“Yeah,” I heard myself saying. My voice sounded distant. “I have a major problem.” I looked up and into her trusting blue eyes. “I have no faith in God…or in anybody else for that matter. Ever since…it happened, I’ve had nothing to live for.”
“Do you want to tell me about it?” Anya said. She sounded so sure of herself, so confident; some qualities that I haven’t had in myself for a very long time.
All of a sudden, I heard my story, my past, coming out of my mouth. “It all started two years ago on Christmas Eve. My brother had just gotten his driver’s license two weeks earlier. He was out celebrating this Christmas Eve with some friends at the movies. He went out at eight and told my mom and me that he would be home by midnight. Well, midnight came and went and he wasn’t home yet. He didn’t have a cell phone so we couldn’t call him. It was three o’ clock in the morning by the time the phone rang. Expecting it to be my brother, I hurriedly answered it. It wasn’t my brother, not at all. Instead, the chief of police in my town was on the phone. I gave the phone to my mother and after about thirty seconds, she collapsed to the floor, crying. I quick reached for the phone. While on it, the police man told me that my brother was dead, that he had died in a car crash. It seemed that he had hit some invisible black ice and had rolled his car and had also hit a tree.” I looked up at Anya, tears flowing on my cheeks. But, for once I didn’t get angry and wipe them away. “That was the worst Christmas of my life. I felt like God had cheated me and my mom. Obviously, my mom didn’t think so. She just became closer to Him. She started to go to church every Sunday and Wednesday and joined in some religious groups. But that just made me angrier at God. He had cheated us both so bad, but yet he still had my mom’s faith in Him. Oh, sure, my mom tried to get me to reunite with God, but I wouldn’t and like Him, I pushed her away too. The only reason why I’m even here is because she said that she would buy me a new I-Pod for Christmas.” When I was finished, I felt at loss for words. There was nothing else to say and Anya was studying me very carefully. But yet, there was this warm feeling creeping up inside of me. I had finally done it. I had finally told somebody the truth about what I thought of my life and of God. And it had felt good.
“You know, April, that you shouldn’t give up on God yet,” Anya said with a loving look in her eye. “Because He still cares about you.”
I stared at her. What was she talking about? Just because I told her about my terrible problem and it had made me feel better doesn’t mean that God is still with me. It doesn’t even mean that He still loves me. Before I could voice my doubts, however, she spoke again, “Do you believe in angels, April?” Again, before I could reply, she took my hands in hers. “Watch,” she commanded. I did and I almost gasped aloud at what I saw.
Anya stood up and a bright light surrounded her. I was blinded completely, so I couldn’t see her or anything else at all. When the light faded, a beautiful, glowing angel was floating in front of me. I recognized some of Anya’s facial qualities and I stared up in wonder. Somehow, I wasn’t afraid.
“Anya,” I whispered in amazement. It wasn’t a question.
Anya looked at me lovingly. “April, think twice before you ever give up on the Lord again. He will always be there for you and so will I. He and I both will always be watching over you. Now go, and start your life afresh. Renew ties and love again. This is our faithful blessing to you.” Then, she disappeared.
And I felt myself returning to the sewing room. I heard the buzz of the sewing machines but I didn’t feel like I was really there. What I did feel though was the blessing the Anya had promised me: I felt love, faith, and I also for the first time in two years had hope for the rest of my life to come.