During the course of one year I lost my only child to violence, my youngest brother to the ravages of illness and a grandmother to time. I survived these tragedies a better, stronger, and more determined person, because I was nurtured by the grace of angels.
I was fortunate that Polly was my companion on this earthly pilgrimage. The strength of her commitment enhanced my understanding of the human condition and provided me with clarity of vision. The depth of her emotion taught me that caring for others could strengthen my own self worth and expand my horizons beyond material values. The purity of her love defined her final act. She faced her worst fears with courage worthy of the most seasoned combat veteran. On shaky knees, as the devil was stealing her into the night, her final words were, “Please don’t hurt my mother and sister.” My greatest teacher was only twelve-years-old.
That night the angels dipped their wings over Petaluma and re-claimed one of their own. In life Polly shared her gifts with those who were touched by her presence, but in death she touched us all. The welfare of a little lost girl surmounted religious, ethnic and political barriers. Millions of eyes were looking for her and millions of hands were clasped in prayer for her safe return. Her presence on earth set a course that millions of years of evolution, thousands of years of legislation and hundreds of years of struggle and strife couldn’t accomplish. She brought us together as one. Those were Polly’s angels.
The nation rose like a phoenix in the wake of Polly’s tragedy and demanded answers. For sixty-five days we navigated the murky waters of despair toward a fate that tantalized us with glimmers of light, and then doused our hopes with uncertain veils of darkness. Finally the prayers of Polly’s angels were answered, but not as we expected. Polly’s unselfish bravery in the face of doom provided the target and her commitment of love gave us the weapon to use in the eternal struggle between good and evil. In bitter irony we discovered that in order to win the war, we sometimes have to lose a battle.
Seven months later I visited my brother Jonathan on his deathbed. He seemed to be recovering and was excited to see me. I held his hand as he told me the following story. “Earlier today Polly visited me. She fluttered above me like a butterfly on tiny wings. I asked her why her wings were so small? She said that it was because she wasn’t ready to go yet. Then Polly said, ‘Get ready Uncle Jonny, because you will be joining me soon and there are a great big pair of wings waiting for you.’ I asked her if I should hurry? Polly said, ‘No, Uncle Jon, you want your wings to get as big as they can, and together we will take a ride that is better than anything at Disneyland.” Two days later Jonathan died. Now he is with Polly on a fantastic voyage.
My grandmother was very old, bed ridden and fragile, so we didn’t tell her about either of these misfortunes. Besides, she was riding horses, and wanted to get to the top of the mountain where Polly was waiting for her and the sun was disappearing over the horizon. She is now with Polly, and the sun has set and I know something that I never realized before. The angel we were seeking was guiding us all along.