Raphael, an angel of the Lord disguised as a mortal, walked amongst the earth. He knew not the plans the Lord had for him, but ventured on with faith in his heart.
After miles of travel, a light as bright as the sun flashed across the sky. Startled, Raphael blinked, turning his head away from its radiance. Suddenly he felt as if a rope had been tied around him, pulling him in the direction of this lights source.
“I shall go,” Raphael said aloud, obeying the pull from the Holy Spirit.
As he drew closer to the glow, Raphael passed rows and rows of houses. Cars drove down the streets, children gleefully played in yards, and life all around seemed blissfully comfortable. But nothing in this neighborhood caught Raphael’s attention like the beauty of this foreign light which beckoned him. Like a crystal shimmering in the sun’s rays, Raphael followed it until he came to a house, and there was no doubt in his mind that this was where he was supposed to be.
Outside by the curb Raphael saw a family and all at once he was filled with a love and knowledge so palpable it was as if he had known this family his entire life.
A tear, small and easily overlooked, traced down the cheek of the mother. It was then that Raphael saw that the light which had led him here had glistened off of her tears. Tears which she forced away, wiping her cheeks with the back of her hand.
Raphael looked to the heavens. “This mother has great love for her children.”
As thundering as a mighty storm, and gentle as a cool nights breeze, God’s voice drifted down from the heavens. “She has loved her children as I have loved her.”
It was clear to Raphael then, that this sadness stemmed from loss. The mother’s daughter, Lindsay was moving and her heart was breaking. But her heart shattered for more than just her daughter. It splintered for her son, Noah who, in mere months, would follow suit and leave for college many miles away. And while her other children had not yet voiced intentions of moving, her heart splintered because of their growth. They were not to be her dependent babies forever. The stillness of time was not a luxury given to mortals.
“Her daughter,” stated Raphael. “Her son, they are leaving her.”
“They are going to where I have called them,” replied God.
Cloaking himself in Christ’s light, Raphael moved to wait amongst the family as they said their goodbyes. Hidden from their sight, he watched their hugs and fists bumps and smiled to himself.
Then the moment came when the laughing and small talk dwindled to an end, and it was time for this young couple to leave. Everyone stood still, as if their lack of motion would stall the inevitable. It was silent, and Lindsay, who had always avoided displays of affection waited only a few seconds before stepping forward and wrapping her arms around the woman who’d given her life. The two of them did not hug often, but today was different. Today Lindsay sought to hug more than her mother. In her grasp she held tight to her best friend, her mentor, and her hero.
Raphael was nearly brought to his knees as this daughters memories blindsided and engulfed him. For Lindsay had seen far more than she had let on. She had seen her mother during some of her best moments and some of her worst. She had watched as her mother had selflessly saved the last piece of pie for another, or when she willingly gave up a full nights rest to stroke her young child’s fevered head. Lindsay had witnessed all the stress her mother had carried over the years, and all the times she had put on a brave face, enduring the weight of the world in hopes that she might spare her children lifes cruel realities for just a bit longer.
Lindsay remembered all the times she had called upon her mother’s ear to complain about the unfairness of the world, and the many times her mother had listened patiently with all the understanding and love only a parent could offer. She recalled the countless nights of loving advice, all the gentle guidance, and the never failing arms which had always remained open. Endless amounts of giggles bubbled from Lindsay’s memory as Raphael saw mother and daughter banter back and forth like school girls, their stomachs aching from laughter.
As those memories faded, Raphael’s heart felt heavier than it ever had before. It felt elated with joy and yet shackled with grief.
“I want them to remain together,” Raphael said to his maker, knowing how human he sounded. “I do not wish for them to be separated.”
Jesus, who had been silent up until this point, sat at God’s right hand and smiled. It was a sight so incredibly beautiful that
Raphael had to shield his mortal eyes.
“They can never be separated,” said Jesus. “For the heart that beats within Lindsay’s chest has been grown in all the loving tenderness of her mother. Their bond was forged in blood, but their relationship has blossomed through love and friendship unique only to a mother and child. No distance, no matter how vast, nor time, no matter how enduring, can separate the two of them.”
Raphael hadn’t ever felt a pull at his heart as he felt it then. As if he was being yanked in several directions at once, and he wondered if this was what God often felt as he looked upon His children on earth. The desire to be with them, and yet the desire to allow them to live. If the love of this mother and daughter felt like this, how much stronger was God’s love for those He called His own? The thought was almost too much for Raphael to fathom.
He looked back to the family and smiled at their embrace. In that one hug Raphael knew all that Lindsay hoped to convey, for the two of them had never been ones for spoken words. Clutching to her mother, Lindsay hoped to thank her for all she had done. For all the stories shared, all the lessons learned, and tears shed. For the outfits that clothed her, the meals that fed her, and the love that engulfed her. She thanked her mother for all she had sacrificed and all she had endured for her sake. For without her, Lindsay knew she would not be standing where she was today.
Raphael could no longer help himself and fell to his knees, overcome with emotion as images flooded in. This was not the end for these two beautiful souls. Right now, while life was leading Lindsay away, it was not to be forever. Lindsay was soon to begin a family of her own, and the love of a mother would pass on just as another ignited. And the love of a grandmother was equally incomparable and beautiful. This story was not coming to an end. God was not finished with this family. This was not a goodbye, but a see you later.
Raphael stood to leave, thanking God for blessing him with this moment to see the great love of family. But before Raphael left, he heard something which shattered his already shattering heart.
Lindsay forced a laugh as she pulled away, reigning in her tears. “I should go,” she said. “I want to get there before the sun sets. I love you guys.”
Upon hearing this Raphael wept. He knew that Lindsay had intentionally not called her new destination home, because inside this young daughter’s heart she knew that home was and always would be with her mother.