Dollar Store Angel
Copyright 2005 by Teresa P. Thompson
My heart began to pound faster and faster, and I could feel my pulse begin to race. My hand instantaneously clasped around my mouth before I had a chance to realize what I was doing. I heard myself let out a loud gasp, as I turned to see everyone within my viewing range staring at me.
The other customers must have surely thought I was a crazy woman, but my reaction was natural considering the trinket that sat directly in front of me on the dollar store shelf.
I could feel my pulse getting stronger as I reached for the beautiful figure of the angel that sat on a bench. She was just exactly as I had pictured her to look. She was just exactly like my mother-in-law, Pauline, had described her to be. Normally the description of an item such as this wouldn’t cause this much excitement. But the circumstances surrounding the description of this beautiful figurine were anything but normal.
It had just been a couple of days since Pauline, had sat on her front porch describing this beautiful angel to me. The only difference was that she was not actually describing this particular figurine. She was not describing any figurine, but rather a vision that she had during an out-of-body experience several months before.
It was late fall and we were all expecting to have a normal holiday season, just as usual. Pauline had not been feeling well for several days when we got the news that she had undergone a massive heart attack. Upon our arrival to the hospital, we were informed that she had stopped breathing and code blue had been called. The medical team had since revived her, but her only means of breathing was being done with a respirator.
“They are getting ready to fly her out,” Luke, my father-in-law, told us as we meet him outside Pauline’s hospital door. “It doesn’t look good at all.”
Upon arriving at the hospital over 200 miles away, Pauline was prepped for open heart surgery. Although she did come through the surgery, later that evening we were informed that she had died on the operating table for several minutes.
The next several months were long and difficult ones for Pauline’s recovery. The first few months the only communications she had with us was through notes that she would write. She wasn’t able to talk due to the feeding tubes and the respirator that ran from her nose and mouth. She looked totally helpless, but somehow she pulled herself through this ordeal along with the help of some very compassionate medical personnel.
Six months after the heart attack she finally came home. It was then that she began to tell me bits and pieces of what she had experienced while she was unconscious. I didn’t want her to become too stressed so I just tried to ignore her comments at first. I was curious about what she had experienced, but I wanted her to wait until she was stronger before she went into any details.
It was exactly one year after the heart attack when she finally told me the entire story about what she had experienced during the brief moments that she was out of her body on that operating table.
“I can remember seeing myself lying on the table and there were all these people dressed in blue surrounding my body. It looked as though they were working frantically, but I kept thinking that they were wasting their time because I was no longer there with them,” she said. “I wanted to tell them, but I couldn’t speak.”
I sat silently caught up in what she was saying as I was trying to picture what she had seen as she described it in detail.
“Suddenly I felt myself move from the room and beyond the building where I was until I stopped in an open field. The field smelled of the prettiest flowers. Suddenly I saw a beautiful porcelain bench with an arch above it. The arch was covered with flowers of every kind imaginable,” She said as she continued with her story. “The next thing that I knew I was sitting on the bench and I was dressed in a beautiful long white gown with peach lace trim. I felt so at peace with myself and the surroundings that I wanted to stay there forever, but somehow I knew that I couldn’t.”
As she continued with the story she said that although she never heard a voice anywhere, she felt someone was telling her that it was not time yet and that she needed to go back to her family.
“I wanted to stay so
badly, but I knew that I had to return to that cold operating room,”
she said. “But I will never forget what that field, the
bench and the gown that I was wearing looked like.”
Upon hearing that story, I wanted so much to be able to witness that beautiful scene that Pauline had described. I never dreamed that would be possible until I stood face to face with that beautiful figurine in the dollar store that day.
I quickly reached my trembling hand for the figurine before I realized there were only two of them left on the shelf. I moved to the counter to make my purchase when I suddenly turned to get the other one. I knew that I had to have both of them, but I just didn’t know why at that moment.
I will never forget the tears that came to Pauline’s eyes that day when I brought that figurine into her kitchen.
“This is exactly what I saw!” She said through tears of joy. “Where on Earth did you get this?”
I knew then why I had suddenly wanted two of the same figurine---I was supposed to get one for myself as well as one for her. I also knew that no words were needed to describe the feelings that enveloped that room that day.
She sat her dollar store
angel on the chest in the bedroom and I brought mine home and sat
mine on the chest in my bedroom. We never spoke of that angel
again and we never told anyone about that incident. Pauline has
since passed away, but I still look at my beautiful angel on the
bench everyday and wonder if Pauline is now resting peacefully in
Heaven on that bench, in that field, that she described from her
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