Gabriela

The little girl sat on the couch. She giggled at the picture of her parents kissing. Her eyes were wide, bright and full of life. She giggled louder when she turned the page and saw another one of them kissing. He daddy’s hand was up held in a fist with his thumb sticking up. He looked so happy.

 “And what pray tell are you doing?” someone asked.

 She didn’t look up as she giggled. “You and mommy kissing.”

 He walked over and sat beside his daughter. She was and always would be as pretty as a picture. He looked at the picture and laughed. Those were indeed good time but those times were over and done with. There was no going back.

 “Daddy why were you so happy then?”

 “Well sweetheart, because mommy was happy and God had given me the one woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with. My soul mate.”

 “Why aren’t you happy now? Were you happier before we came along? Did Payton, Tristan and I do something wrong?”

 “No you children are not to blame. You are the only good things that came out of this marriage. As for the rest of the reasons, you are not old enough to understand.”

 They looked at the pictures together. He laughed and cried with each one. Angel giggled with each one specially the ones of her parents kissing. She had kissed her daddy once when he had shadow and it tickled. When they got to the last page, she looked at her father and kissed his hairy face. She closed the book and then held his hand.

 “I’m gonna pray to Jesus every night that you and mommy get back together.”

 “If you wish. He doesn’t seem to listen to me anymore.”

 “Sure he does daddy. You just have to listen.”

 Mario was about to say something when Angel jumped down and ran into the back yard. She reached the yard and turned back towards him.

 “Bye daddy. I’ll be back later.”

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 Angel Rocha was eight years old. She could be like all children, little devils. But sometimes she could be wise beyond her years. Her long blond hair hung down to her lower back. Her blue eyes shone like fine blue sapphires. She turned around and was gone from sight.

 He waved at her but was too late. She ran into her brothers as they were playing. Mario went to the door and watched them. He watched them hug and then run into the makeshift fort that he had helped them build. He saw Angel look at him as she went in. She held up her hand with a raised thumb and smiled, then she went inside the fort . She sat down and looked at her brothers.

 “We have to pray to Jesus.”

 “For?” Her older brother Payton asked.

 “So that mommy and daddy will get back together.”

 “But daddy doesn’t believe anymore.” Tristan replied.

 Angel looked at him and then smiled. She reached over and stroke his cheek softly.

 “Sure he does, he just doesn’t realize it. He is hurting and needs help. We have to start on him first.”

 Tristan looked at Payton. They shrugged their shoulders then nodded their heads in unison. They each took one of Angel’s hands then grasped each others. They bowed their heads and Angel spoke slowly.

 “Jesus, please help our daddy to believe again. We know that you love him and so do we. Oh and God, help our daddy and mommy get back together again.”

 Tristan peeked at his sister and slowly nodded his head to himself. Not bad, he thought. He spoke slowly also.

 “Dear God, please help our daddy. We know that he still believes in you but that he blames you for mommy leaving. We know that it isn’t your fault and we want him to know that too. Also God, help our mommy and daddy get back together again.”

Payton kept his eyes closed and nodded his head in agreement. He was the oldest and he was almost thirteen. His short brown hair was cropped close to his head. He liked it that way. He spoke softly as if it were a private prayer rather then a public one.

 “Father God, I agree with Angel and Tristan. I ask for the believing to come back to dad. I love him so much and I know he needs to come back to you.

 “Lord Jesus, I bring my mom to you too. I love her too and I want her and dad to get back together. I know he misses her. I can hear him crying at night. Help them to come together and at least talk things out.

 “Lord, be with us as we continue to pray for mom and day. Encourage us to set things in motion and Lord if we can’t then please Jesus, step in and get things moving. In Jesus name. Amen.”

 Payton opened his eyes to see Angel and Tristan looking at him. He raised his hands.

 “What?”

 Angel crawled over and hugged him and then kissed his cheek.

 “What was that for?”

 “Because I love you.”

 Payton smiled and then pushed her away. “Get away from me ya mutant.”

 The laughter grew louder until it spilled into the yard. Mario looked out the door and saw the children come running out and into the house. The phone rang and Angel was the closest one to it. She picked it up.

 “Hello, Rocha residence.”

 “Hello my angel.”

 “MOMMY!” she cried.

 “Hello my baby. Is daddy home?”

 Angel looked up at Payton and then shoved him the phone. She ran through the house calling for Mario. Payton put the receiver to his ear.

 “Hi mom.”

 “Hello Payton, how is my big boy?”

 “I’m okay, I wish you would come home. We all miss you. Dad misses you the most.”

 “I know baby, but your father and I have a lot to talk about before that can happen. We will see. How is Tristan?”

 Payton handed Tristan the phone and watched as his little brother spoke into the mouth piece.

 “Hi mommy. I love you!”

 “Hey honey, how is my little guy?”

 “I miss you mommy.” Tristan started to cry and almost hung up. He felt the strong hand of his father on his shoulder as he took the phone.

 “Hello Linda, did you call to bust my chops again?”

 “No, I called to let you know that I have to go away for a few days. Some conference and I have to go if I want to survive. I need you to say it is okay if they stay with you till I come back.”

 “No Linda it is not a problem. They are my children too. Enjoy your conference.” Mario hung up the phone and then sat down.

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  Mario Rocha was a proud man. He was proud when his children were born and he strutted around like a peacock. He was proud of his Italian heritage and that he had, even though people said he shouldn’t, kept his native language. He loved his children and would give his life for them. He loved them so much that he had them tattooed onto his back.

 Back when he was an angry young man and he was on the brink of prison, he had met Linda. She brought him from the brink of destruction. She loved him for who he was. She didn’t care about what he had done all those years ago. She had become his world and she was never to leave it. It had been her that had brought him back to Christ. She had been so patient with him. All those years ago then he had to lash out at her a few months ago and she left him.

 He was so proud when Payton had been born. It was so hard to believe that a man with such anger could produce such a good thing. He was even prouder when Tristan was born. Then Angel came along. She was the one that was not suppose to be. She was their miracle baby.

 After Tristan had been born, he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He won the battle but had been told that he would never father another child. Then months later Linda said she was pregnant. He questioned it but when he saw her he knew that this little child was his own. There was no mistake. The doctors were wrong or it could have been the Lord that made it happen. He didn’t care, all he knew was that she was his blood.

 Now his life was in shambles. His marriage was over. He had lost his first love and didn’t know how to get it back. He didn’t even know if he wanted it back. The only reason he existed was for his kids. His life was empty and he liked it that way. He stood and walked away from the phone table. It was quiet and he walked into the playroom. Payton was playing on his Xbox and Tristan was reading. He looked for Angel and found her curled up with her huge teddy bear, using the stomach as a pillow, sleeping soundly. He looked at each one of them then walked away.

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 Linda Rocha sat at her desk. She glanced at the pictures of her children and the one of Mario. They were her lifeline. They would be her lifeline while she struggled to kick her habit. She had struggled all of her life. She just couldn’t shake the drugs. They mocked her when she tried to get clean. They whispered in her ear and said awful things. She cried and cried and every time she gave into them. She didn’t call out to God because she felt that what God wouldn’t want her as one of His children.

 She, although hard, she stayed clean throughout her marriage and when she had found out that she was pregnant with Payton, she gave them up totally. She stayed clean with Tristan and Angel. Then things exploded. That’s when the drugs reared their ugly head again. She fell into the trap all over again. She tried to hide it from Mario but he knew that she was having a hard time. He tried to hide it from the children and act like everything was okay but his patience ran out. He lashed out at her and she left. Left her children behind and made the drugs her best friend.

 Linda wasn’t a bad person. She wasn’t misunderstood either. She knew what she was doing and that it was bad for her. She knew that she had no one to blame but herself. She understood that she was an addict and that it was her fault. Linda had believed in God once. There was a time that she would have run to Him with the slightest problem. Now she tries to hide those problems from Him.

 Linda had not told Mario the truth. It was not a conference that she was going to. Rather a court appointed detox to clean out her body. She had tried to sell herself to get drugs. She tried it with an undercover cop. She had had a choice. Either go to prison and spend five years there or take the detox. She had a choice and she chose the detox. For the next five weeks, she was going to be guarded by prison guards. Not allowed to leave the premises nor was she allowed any visitors. She could only talk to the other patients. She would be watched like a hawk and she would get clean. It was not going to be a walk in the park. It was going to be hard. The hardest thing she had ever done.

 Linda sat on the edge of her bed. She took the pictures of her kids and the one of Mario and put them into her bag. She pulled the one of Mario out and kissed it softly. She wept silently and whispered.

“I am doing this to win you back.”

 With her bags packed and she was ushered out to the car. She was off to the center to do her time. She was alone now or at least she thought she was.

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 Green Hills Rehab was not a new business. They had been around for decades but it was a new building. They had all the same equipment that all the posh rehab center’s did except for the fact they didn’t cater to the rich and famous. They charged far less and were not afraid of taking government money. They accepted all the medical plans that were available. They even took a pro-bono case from time to time. There were no movie stars here. The people in Green Hills had real problems not made up ones.

 Linda was ushered into the main seating hall. Every new member had to listen to a message from the founder. It was a taped message for the founder had died many years ago. She found a seat and got comfortable. Two women sat beside her and they both looked at her and grunted.

 “God works in mysterious ways. God does things that seem impossible to the mere mortal but to Him they are not all that impossible but then again God is the God of impossibility. He will do the same for you is you let him.”

 The tape stopped and a woman stepped up to the microphone. She looked out around the crowd and smiled softly. She moved closer and then spoke softly.

 “My name is Mrs. Gwendolyn Myers. I am the administrator at Green Hills. Some of you have been here before and know the speech that I am about to give. Some of you have only heard it once while some of you are new and have never heard it.

 “Let’s get one thing clear. There is a zero tolerance policy enforced here and there are NO exceptions. There are no drugs here unless you have been prescribed them by your doctor. You will not find your drug of choice here. There is no smoking, no alcohol, no sex and certainly no swearing tolerated here.

 “You will be each assigned a caregiver to attend to you. She or he will be with you at all times. They will keep a daily journal about you. Everything you do, say or act upon will be jotted down. Every night the journals will be read by me and then the necessary actions taken if there are any to be taken.

 “Let us be brutally honest here. You are all addicts. You have a drug of choice. It may be cocaine or heroine. It might be pain killers or speed. It might be alcohol or methamphetamine’s. To say that I don’t know what you are going through would be a lie.”Mrs Myers lifted her arms and pulled down her sleeves to show her tracks on her arms. “My drug of choice was cocaine and then it became heroine. I know what you are going through. I went through it. I spent my time in here as well.

 “It’s not an easy road to kick a habit. It takes time for your body to become accustomed to being clean of the drugs you are on. All the staff, even the chaplain, know what you are going through. They are all recovered addicts. They are here to help.

“Lets move on to other topics. Some of you are here by your free choice. Some have been signed in by family while others are here under the government plan. I am the only one that knows which one you are. No one else knows not even the rest of the staff. It is up to you to get clean. We can not help you. We can guide you and comfort you but you MUST be the one willing to do it.

“There is no such thing as recovered addict. Once an addict always an addict. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about getting high and forgetting about the world and all the problems I have in it. But then I remember all the time I have put into get clean and it brings me back to earth. So what does this mean to you out there. Well it means that you are not alone. WE all know what you are going through. You are not alone.

“Now it is time to get you to your rooms and get unpacked. We are having a late lunch and then you will go into your groups. If you don’t know which group you are in, ask your caregiver.”

Linda stood up and looked for her caregiver. He walked up to her and smiled.

“Hi, my name is John and I am your caregiver for the next few weeks. If you need to talk or you need anything then just come to me and I will see what I can do.” John turned around and then turned back. “If you follow me, I will show you to your room.”

Linda followed him and looked around as she followed. He opened a door and then watched her enter. He closed the door and then left her to settle in. Linda looked around at the bare room and then plopped down on the bed. She was finally alone. Her hands came up and immediately covered her face. She rubbed it softly then started to unpack. She laid down afterwards and took a nap. She slept softly, her mind going over the events of the day. She woke up to see a woman sitting in a chair.

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Angel sat at the table and watched the birds at the feeder. She wondered if God loved them as much as He loved her. She looked at her dad and smiled.

 “Daddy, does God love me as much as He loves the birds?”

 “I suppose.”

 “And does He love me as much as He loves Mommy?”

 “I suppose?” He said looking up at her. “Why are you asking such questions?”

 “Cause.”

 He looked at her. “Cause is not an answer.”

 She nodded her head softly. “Yes daddy. I want Jesus to help mommy. I want Him to heal her so that she can come home. Do you think He will do that for me?”

 “All you can do is ask.” Mario replied.

 Angel got down off her chair and ran over and kissed Mario on the cheek. “Thanks daddy.” He smiled as she ran off and he went back to his paper. He stopped reading when he heard her words wafting out of the playroom.

 “Dear Jesus, it’s Angel again. You must be getting awful tired of hearing from me. I pray all the time and yet you never complain. Well you just might this time Jesus. I want you to do something for me. I want you to get in there and heal my mommy. You have to do something for my mommy. If you love her as much as You love the birds, then you have to get in there and do something.”

 She stood up and went out to the back yard and played on the swings. Payton rushed into the house and after grabbing an apple, ran outside to join Angel. Tristan came running out next and sat on the grass.

 “We need to pray for mommy.” Tristan said.

 “I have been, almost all day.” Angel replied.

 Payton bit into his apple and then after swallowing the chunks he looked at them both. “We have to pray for dad to ya know.”

 Angel nodded her head just as Tristan did.

 “We know. We have been and we know that Jesus has been looking out for daddy. He’s safe as long as we pray for him but mommy needs more prayer.”

 “Why do you say that Angel?” Payton asked.

 “I don’t know. I just know that she needs more prayer then daddy does.

 They gathered together on the grass and held hands. They felt two more hands come into the little group and heard Mario’s voice.

 “Can I join in with you?”

 The three of them nodded their heads and then watched as Mario sat down. He settled in between Angel and Payton then he started to pray.

 “Dear God, I don’t know if I believe anymore or if this is an attempt to get back into your good graces. I know that I have been struggling with my faith and I also know that it will take baby steps to get back into the swing of things. The one thing I do know is that I love you and that I love my children and that I love Linda. I don’t know what she is doing right now but I want her to know that I love her and that she needs your help. I need your help Lord. Please help me and help my beloved…….”

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 The room sat quiet as the words filtered up. The man who sat on the chair listened intently. His head bowed as he listened. He shifted a little and there was a scar on his side. He lifted his hands and you could see the holes that no longer bled but reminded Him of what he had done. He heard the prayers from the three children and the father and then stood up. He walked out into a large area and then headed up to the throne area.  The veil was torn away. The remnants left to remind everyone the sacrifice the Son had made. He smiled as he looked at them then entered the room.

 “Yes My Son.”

 “Father, I have had a special prayer come to me this morning.”

 “From Angel again I suppose.”

 “Yes Father.”

 “What do you wish to do?”

 “I promised my brothers and sisters that if they ask anything in my name that I would give it to them. I wish to grant this child’s prayer.”

“Who do you want to send?”

 “Gabriella.”

 The Father smiled and nodded his head at his Son. He moved from the room and found an angel.

“Find me Gabriella.”

 He sat down and waited. He watched as people moved to and fro caring for each other and caring for their homes. He listened silently as the choir sang of His glory and he bathed it in. He opened His eyes to a girl kneeling in front of him.

 “Stop that. Get up already. I do not want your nonsensical platitudes. I am not like the other gods of this world. I want my little ones to come to me freely and to know that they will get the answer they want. I also want them to know that I love them and that they are my only concern. No sacrifices and no  incense. I want nothing from then but their love and devotion. Now get up.”

 The girl stood and looked at him. She stroked His face and then spoke.

“Sorry Father.”

 “Yes Lord Jesus. You called for me?”

 “Yes, I have a job for you. Remember Clarence?”

 “Yes Lord. He earned his wings by showing that man that his life was not as messed up as he thought. Who do you wish me to save?”

 Jesus sat down and motioned for Gabriella to do the same. “I have a similar job for you but it is not a plea from a man but rather a little girl. Listen to this.”

 He motioned slightly and a sound echoed through the room.

 ‘“Dear Jesus, it’s Angel again. You must be getting awful tired of hearing from me. I pray all the time and yet you never complain. Well you just might this time Jesus. I want you to do something for me. I want you to get in there and heal my mommy. You have to do something for my mommy. If you love her as much as You love the birds, then you have to get in there and do something.”’

 Jesus looked at Gabriella. “The plea from an innocent child. Go and help the mommy that she speaks of.”

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“Hello.”

 “Hello, who are you?” Linda asked.

 “My name is Gabriella. I am your new roomie.”

 “No no. I was told that I would have a single room with nobody else in it. You can’t stay here.”

 Linda went to the door and went to open it. Gabriella stood up and held up her hand.

 “Wait, this is only going to be for a few days. I was told that this was the only bed available and they didn’t think that you would mind all that much.”

 “Well I do mind but if it is only for a few days, I guess I can live with it.”

 Gabriella smiled and then waited for Linda to speak.

 “What are you in for?”

 “My drug of choice is cocaine, laced with heroine and morphine. A lovely little cocktail that will get you up and keep you up for a while. That’s the good side and of course it does have a bad side. The coming down is murder.” Gabriela smiled. “You?”

 “Drugs and alcohol. I want to get clean this time. I want to go home to my kids and husband.”

 “I understand that. I tried so many times to stay clean. I kept slipping and now I am back in here. I want to do it right this time. But it is hard to do. Drugs are such a demon. They get into your soul and then stay there even after you get clean and then, sorry to say, not even god can help.”

 Linda nodded her head and then laid down. She closed her eyes and was asleep in no time. Gabriela watched her then silently left the room. She made her way to the chapel and sat down in the first pew. Bowing her head she started to pray.

 “I have made contact Lord Jesus. As Simon did with Imia Wilson. Help me to get through to Linda Rocha. Help me to lead her back to you. I sense Lord that it is not going to be an easy road.  She knows you Lord but the demon has taken control of her. I need Your strength to break through and free her.

 “Lord, she knows You. I can sense that. She has not let go of You yet she is ashamed of what has happened and is afraid to confront you for she fears you will be angry with her. She has backslidden so far Lord that I fear that if something is not done soon, she will be of no use. I know you love her Lord and that your love for her will heal her.

 “Lord, I beg forgiveness. I lied to her. Well not lied so much as bending the truth. I told her things that were true but not anymore. I am not the person I was before. I am a new creation in You. When I died, I took you as my own and you changed me and made me clean. You have given me the chance to present you to a woman that already knows you. She has just lost her way. Lord Jesus, help me bring Linda back to you. In Your Name I ask this, Amen.”

 Gabriela sat with her head hung low. She didn’t move a muscle. She waited for the answer that she wanted. She worshiped silently. She heard foot falls coming up from behind her. She looked to see the priest sitting across from her. She smiled softly at him.

 “Are you alright child?”

 “Yes I am. Who might you be?”

 “I am the priest here. My name is Father Williams. Is there something I can council you for?”

 Gabriela got up and slowly walked away. She smiled quite nicely and then walked away. She looked back at him.

 “I am alright Priest William.”

 The priest stood up and looked at her. “That would be Father to you.”

 Gabriela smiled. “No it wouldn’t Priest Williams. I call no one Father but the one who created me.”

 He continued to look at her as she walked away. “Wait, why do you say that?”

 She turned around and walked up to him. Reaching down she grabbed a bible from the pew and gave it to him. She smiled quite nicely again and whispered in his ear.

 “Look up Matthew 23:9.” She said as she walked away.

 Father Williams looked up the verse and read it aloud.

 “Do not call anyone on earth father. Only one is your Father, the one in heaven”

 The priest put the bible down and then went about his business. Try as he might, the words stuck with him and wouldn’t let him go. He knelt down in  prayer, speaking the words silently. He stayed kneeling waiting for an answer.

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 Mario Rocha sat at his desk. He looked out onto the sales lot. Cars weren’t selling right now. He didn’t have to worry though, he got paid weekly. He didn’t do commission work on a regular basis. He watched as the lot manager came in. He waved at Mario and then headed into office. Mario waved back too late. Michelle walked into his office and placed his paycheck in the in box. He picked it up and then opened it. His raised an eyebrow and then folded it and slipped it into his pocket. He would Mr. Stone about it later.

 Going back to his paperwork, he signed some forms requiring parts for different vehicles they had in getting repaired. He whistled softly some tune and from time to time answered phones about parts required. He looked up at the clock and saw how late it was. He picked up the phone and spoke to Mr. Stone.

 “Sir, might I come in and have a word with you?”

 Mario put the phone down and walked to Stone’s office door. He knocked and then entered in. Stone looked up at him.

 “Yes Mario, what do you need?”

 “Well Sir, I was looking at my pay check and noticed an extra thousand dollars added to my regular pay. I was wondering if it was a mistake?”

 Stone looked at him. “Nope, no mistake. You sold the mustang and you deserve the commission.”

 “But sir, that was Paul’s sale.”

 Stone put his pen down and looked up at Mario again. He smiled softly. He was a very patient man. He never was quick to blow up or yell or scream. Mario always thought that he looked a lot like that Shannara writer.

 “Mario I understand but I don’t play favorites. Never had and I never will. I was watching. Paul got called away and the buyer was about to leave. You walked up and kept him on the lot. You sold that car to the buyer. It might be Paul’s name on the contract but it was you that sold the car. So it is only fair that you get the commission. When Paul comes to me, and he will, he will be told the same thing. Do I make myself clear?”

 “Yes Sir.”

 Mario walked out of the office and saw Paul go in. He could hear the yelling and the screaming. Paul was cursing up a storm. He heard the door open and heard Stone’s voice.

 “Clean out your desk. I have told you before about the language. You’re fired!”

 Mario watched Paul walk away. He didn’t didn’t look at Mario instead just cleaned out his desk. Mario couldn’t help but smile and then stopped just as quick. Mr. Stone had been looking for a reason to fire that jerk. Today had been the day.

 Paul Stubbs had been a marine. He was use to yelling and screaming but even he knew he had crossed the line. He pulled things out of his desk and shoved them into a box. He looked up when he heard footfalls. His face was full of disappointment when he saw it was Mario.

 “What is it Rocha?”

 Mario passed him a check and walked away. Paul looked at it and then went into Mario’s office.

 “Why?”

 “Because you deserve it. You were the one to grease the wheels. I just got him to sign on the dotted line. You deserve the money. It was your sale after all.”

 “No, that is where you were wrong. He wasn’t going to sign or even consider signing. He wasn’t interested yet you were the one that sold him that car. So you deserve the commission. I over reacted and paid dearly for it.?”

 Mario watched him tear up the check and then walk away. Mario felt good and went to Mr. Stone’s office. He was in there for quite sometime. He opened the door and caught Paul as he was about to leave.

 “Paul, before you leave, Mr. Stone wants to talk to you.”

 Paul put the box down and then went into Stone’s office. Mario was about to leave but was told to stay. Stone looked at Stubbs.

 “Well it seems you have a guardian angel Stubbs. Seems at least one person likes you. Seems Mr. Rocha has taken it upon himself to plead for your job. I on the other hand would just as well be done with you, but I will allow you to stay on one condition. You will stay in my employ as long as you curb your language. There is no swearing allowed in this place of business. Am I clear mister!”

 Stubbs shook his head. “Yes sir, I understand sir, Thank you sir.”

 “Don’t thank me, thank Rocha.”

 Paul walked out of Stone’s office and right into Mario’s. He extended his hand and Mario shook it softly.

 “Thanks man. You saved my life.”

 Mario nodded his head and Paul left. Stone walked right in after him.

 “What is it with you? Why help out someone who is always making fun of you? I don’t understand?”

 Mario looked at him, Stone’s graying hair was short cropped. He like Paul Stubbs had been a marine. He had a kind face and yet could be mean. Not mean in a violence way but in the way he did business. With all of that, Terrance Stone was a fair man.

 “Well I thought about it and wondered two things. What would your father, Jackson Stone do? I think that he would have had him stay. Yes he is a loud, foulmouthed human being but he is the best salesman you have. Beside that, he makes fantastic coffee.”

 Terrance Stone nodded his head and walked away. He knew that Mario was right. He turned around to address all the employees.

 “Listen up all of you. I will not tolerate any oneupmanship. I will not tolerate swearing of any kind. What you do in your own homes is your business. What you do and say here is another story. This will be your only warning.”

 Terrence Stone walked away into his office. He heard the grumbling from outside. He liked being in charge. He sat at his desk and began working again. He chuckled softly. He needed to give Mario a raise.

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 Linda sat in her chair. It was big, comfy and made of black leather. She liked black. It was an all consuming color. It suited her mood right now. She listened to everyone speak and found out that she really was bored. That was until she heard Gabriela.

 “My name is Gabriela. My father sent me here. He thinks I am nuttier then a fruitcake. I’m not ya know. He just doesn’t understand.”

 “Doesn’t understand what, Gabriela?” the Doctor asked.

 “That I am an angel!” she replied.

 “You mean a real honest to goodness angel, with wings and everything.” someone said.

 “Well no. No wings yet. I have to earn them.”

 “And how do you earn them?” Linda asked.

 “By bringing a lost sheep, or in this case, two lost sheep back to the fold.”

 The other women, except Linda started to laugh. Gabriela sat back down and listened to the laughter. She fought back the tears. It was the same everywhere. Even the angels laughed. She looked at all the women hearing their continued laughter. When she looked at Linda, she heard a still small voice.

 “She is your mission. She is one of the lost sheep. Bring her and the other back to Me and you will get your wings.”

 “Yes Lord Jesus.”

 Taking Linda’s hand Gabriela whispered. “Let’s get out of here.”

 Together they walked out. Linda looked at her as they sat in the common area. She wanted so much to ask her about what she said in group. Gabriela looked at her.

 “Go ahead, you can ask.”

 “Well either you are nuts or you really do believe what you are saying.”

 Gabriela looked at her. She had a small grin on her face and her blue sparkled. They gave away the fact that she actually did believe the things she was saying. Linda cocked her head slightly unsure of her new friendship.

 “Well I am nuts. Not the nuts that everyone thinks about. I believe what I say. Some say they know the way to heaven and how to get through this life, but I can tell you that they don’t and that they are very wrong.”

 Linda looked at her and took her hand. “Oh and I take it that you do.”

 “Yes I do. You do to. You have not fallen so far that you can’t come back. I watch you at night and you say your prayers. People that have fallen so far as you think you have have no need of prayer. You on the other hand pray.

 “Linda, you don’t need doctors or the groups. You need only one thing and you know what that one thing is. I heard you once say in your prayers that you had lost your first love. If that was true then you wouldn’t be praying to him.”

 Linda had noticed that a small crowd had formed. They seemed transfixed by what Gabriela’s words. They seemed quite interested in what she was saying. Gabriela ignored them and spoke only to Linda.

 “Do you understand who your first love is? Do you know his name? Do you?”

 Linda nodded his head. “Yes his name is Jesus but what would he want with me. I have sinned to bad for Him to have anything to do with me!”

 “Oh sweet lady, you are so wrong. Most people say that when things go bad, they fall and then they sin and suddenly they think that God wants nothing more to do with them, but that is so not true. Truth be told, these are the times He begs for us to reach out to him.

 “You have to understand, God loves you and hates the sin. It isn’t God hates the Sinner and the sin. Linda, somewhere deep down inside you, there is love for Him. He still knocks at your door. He is still your first love and he always will be. You just keep the door closed and stop him from coming in.”

 Linda looked at her. “How do you know that?”

 “As I said earlier, you lifted prayers up to Him. What really convinced me was that you put your family first. You spent a very long time on each one of them but very little time on yourself. You have not forsaken or lost your first love.”

 “How do I get Him back?”

 Gabriela looked into her eyes and smiled. “Just ask him.”

 “But how, I have done so many things wrong and yet you tell me that he still loves me. I forsook him and I closed the door on him. I told him not to come in.”

 “What, you think God is just someone you can close a door on and he will just walk away. Sorry but it don’t work that way. He knocks and knocks and knocks till you open the door. Some will never open that door but those that are his, hear his voice and open the door.  You are his. You know that.”

 “What do I do, say I’m sorry and then all is settled. I get a clean slate.”

 “Well not exactly but close. I can lead you through the sinner’s prayer. Linda, time is running out.”

 Linda sat and thought about it. She thought about her children and Mario. She wanted to be out of this place and be with them. Together again as a family and one in Christ. She nodded her head slowly. Gabriela looked up and smiled and saw the crowd that had gathered were also nodding. Linda bowed her head the other women followed.

“Repeat after me.

 “Father God, I come before you as a child. I come before you in fear and trembling. I come before you in awe and wonder. Most of all Lord Jesus, I come before you in need. I come before you in need of forgiveness. I have sinned mightily and only through your blood Jesus, can I get that forgiveness.

 “Lord Jesus I need you. I need You in my life. I need you most of all in my heart. Lord Jesus I give my life to you. As I open the door, come in and sit on the throne in my heart. Make me into the creature you want me to be. I love you Lord Jesus and I want to follow you. I give you all the glory and honor and power. I ask this in your precious name Jesus. Amen.”

 Linda looked at Gabriela. She had a soft glow around her just as the other women did. Gabriela smiled softly.

 “No wings.” Linda noticed.

 “Nope, my job is not done yet. I have one more person to see.”

 Gabriela stood up and then walked out of the room. All the other women came in and sat with Linda. She smiled at each and everyone of them. She smiled softly and then they all started talking.

 <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

 Gabriela stood at the altar. She knelt down and looked up at the empty cross. She smiled softly and then waited. Her eyes never left the cross but her lips moved silently. She closed her eyes and then opened them again to find herself in God’s presence.

 “You are not done yet child.”

 “I know Father, but did you see what I did. I brought more then just Linda Rocha back to you.” Gabriela replied excitedly.

 “Yes I did child. I am very proud of you but you must remember your mission little one. The prayer of a little child. “

 “I remember Father. Can I go tell Jesus now?”

 “Yes child but He already knows.”

 Gabriela smiled then kissed God on the cheek. He giggled softly as he watched her run out.  He sat and thought about all the angels with no wings and found that she was his favorite. He loved his children all the same but Gabriela seemed to bring out that little bit more. He saw the door open and she was in Jesus’s arms.

 Jesus laughed and tickled her. Jehovah looked a them. Jesus was always so gentle.

 “Father, Jesus thinks it is great that those ladies came to him too.”

 Jehovah motioned for Jesus to put her down. She looked up at both of them and then she was gone. The smiled at each other.

 “She is a fine angel.” Jesus said.

 “Yes she is.” His Father replied.

 <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 

 Mario Rocha sat quietly. He turned the television down and listened for noise. He could hear sounds coming from his daughter’s room. He quietly went upstairs avoiding the squeaky one and then went silently to her room. He listened at the door.

 “Mommy came back to Jesus?”

 “Yes she did. So did a few other women. Some might have come to him for the first time.” Gabriela replied.

 “Then why are you here?”Angel queried.

 “To answer the second part of your prayer. You asked that your mommy and daddy come back to Jesus.”

 “You can do that?”

 “I am gonna try.”

 Mario considered going in but chose not to. He walked away leaving Angel to her imagination. He went back downstairs and went back to his quiet. He picked his bible and  started to read again.

 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 He put the bible down and then looked out the window. He looked up to the sky.

 “If you are there, send me a sign.”

 He looked around and grinned. “Just as I thought.”

 Upstairs Gabriela sat talking with Angel, She smiled softly then kissed Angel softly on the nose.

 “I have got to run. Your dad just asked for a sign and that is my cue to bring him back to Jesus.”

 Gabriela disappeared and then Angel could hear her downstairs. Gabriela was talking to her dad. She ran downstairs a little and sat listening.

 “Hello.”

 “Who are you?” Mario asked.

 “My name is Gabriela and I am the sign you asked for.”

 “You are joking right? Where are the cameras?”

 “Not at all Mr. Rocha. You asked for a sign just a minute ago and I am it. Usually the father doesn’t send angels like this but this is a special case.”

 “Why is it special?”

 Gabriela glanced over at the stairs. Angel sat transfixed waiting for an answer. Gabriela smiled softly and then turned back to Mario.

 “Well the answer is really quite simple. Your daughter, Angel, prayed for it. She prayed that you and your wife, Linda, would get back together. She also prayed, in her childlike way, that you would both come back to Jesus.”

 “I understand that but her childlike ways aren’t gonna help.”

 “Not true. The Father sent me down here to facilitate the prayer of a child. Well here I am. Your daughter loves you so much, in fact all your children love you so much that for days they have prayed for you every chance they get. They send out their pleas to the Father to help you.”

 Mario chuckled. “I don’t believe in god anymore!”

 “Sure you do besides it doesn’t matter cause truth be told, He still believes in you.”

 “How do you know that I still believe in god?”

 “Because you see, when someone lifts a prayer to the Father, He looks down upon their hearts. He looks to see if there is any belief lift in them, no matter the amount. If He sees belief, then He sends an angel down to show the way. If He doesn’t see any belief then he answers the prayer in another way.

 “In your case He knows you still believe. He knows your heart Mario. He knows you blame Him for your marriage going south. He knows you blame him for your wife leaving you. He knows that you blame Him for her getting back into drugs. I am here to tell you that it is not his fault. Your wife is the one that chose to get back into drugs. It is the fault of both of you that your marriage went south. It is the both of you that caused the split to happen. You didn’t go to the Father. You stopped lifting your prayers to Him.”

 Mario sat down on the couch and held his head in his hands. He whimpered softly trying not to be heard. He was a man and needed to show strength but he had run out of strength.

 “I know and I want her back.”

 “What about the Father? Do you want him back?”

 Angel heard those words then leapt up and ran down the stairs. She flew into her father’s arms and wept in his shoulder. She looked up at him and cried.

 “Say yes daddy. Jesus loves you daddy. I love you daddy and I want my daddy back. I want mommy back daddy and that can’t happen till you get Jesus back.

 “Daddy, I heard you praying the other day. You said you would do anything to get mommy back. You have to take Jesus daddy. Mommy will come back then daddy.”

 Mario took Angel’s face into his hands. He kissed her forehead softly then looked into her eyes. They were bright and full of tears. He smiled softly and then looked at Gabriela.

 “What about my first love, will I get that back?”

 Mario looked at his feet. He so wanted his first love back. He needed it to be able to go forwards. He sat in silence then heard a knock on the door. He looked to see a man standing, patiently knocking at the door. Mario thought it was strange but got up anyways and went to the door.

 “Yes.”

 The man looked at him. “I never left, you just pushed me aside.”

 Mario looked at him. He saw that scars on his wrists and then scars on his forehead. His mouth dropped open. The man looked at him.

 “May I come in?”

 Mario moved aside and watched him walk in. The man wore a white robe that flowed behind him and seemed to barely touch the ground. His long brown hair flowed down over his shoulders. He had the nicest eyes and the nicest smile. His eyes sparkled with love and forgiveness. He looked at Mario and all he could do was shrink back a little.

 “You asked for your life back. You asked to get your first love back. You asked for a sign. Mario you asked my Father, The Great I Am, to give back something to you that has never been lost. How can one get something back that has never been lost.

 “First you asked for your life back but your life is here. It has gone nowhere. Your life exists in these precious children. They give you the life that you crave so much.

 “You asked for your first love back. I am your first love because I first loved you. I didn’t go anywhere, you just pushed me aside. You chose to ignore me and chaos happened. Your life fell apart but I promised that I would never leave you nor forsake you and I meant it. Even though you ignored Me, I was the silent visitor. The unseeable guest. I was always there watching over you.

 “Just a little while ago you asked for a sign. So I sent you one. I sent my special angel Gabriela. She came down to show you that I was listening but you chose to ignore it. So I had no other choice to come down Myself.

 “Mario, you remind me of Thomas of old. He was so much a ‘see it first’ person. He wouldn’t believe it unless he saw it first hand. You are just like him. So see this.”

 Jesus stuck out his wrists. Mario saw the scars and touched them. He could still, even after all the time had past, put his fingers in. Jesus lifted his robe and Mario saw the scar on his chest. He put his hand in and it came out bloody. He looked up to see drops of blood dripping from Jesus’ head. Mario reached up to feel the still warm blood. Mario tried to stop it but tears welled up in his eyes. He fell to his knees and cried out “MY Lord and My God!” He crumbled and cried openly.

 “You didn’t leave me. You are my first love. I left you and I am so sorry.” Mario cried out.

 Jesus lifted him up and held Mario in his arms. Mario wept still and Jesus cooed him. “No need for sorry. You have come back to me and all is forgiven.”

 Angel had been sitting on the couch. She watched the scene but had not said a word but rather was intently watching the interaction. She felt a tear flow down her cheek as she saw her daddy come back to Jesus. She ran out to the backyard and grabbed Payton and Tristan. They came running in and the boys jaws dropped in unison. Jesus looked at them and smiled.

 “You did a very good thing for your parents. You and your brothers.”

 Mario looked at Jesus. “What about my wife?”

 Jesus looked at Mario and raised an eyebrow. He wanted to help him but it was up to Mario to get her back.

 “Linda has, as you have, come back to me. You need to work things out with her. Through prayer and compromise, the both of you can get back together.”

 Mario watched as Jesus turned towards Gabriela. He looked at her with a smile that was wider then the whole of his face. Her face shone with a brilliance that no diamond could ever equal. Gabriela watched as Jesus turned his head to the others.

 “Witness the joy!”

 Jesus kissed Gabriela on the forehead and she could feel something happening. She could feel something growing out of her back. Angel was clapping and making bird motions with her arms. Gabriela giggled.

 “Really!”

 Angel nodded her head as did Payton and Tristan. Gabriela smiled and looked to Jesus.

 “Well my child, you did well. You brought the two people back to me as you were told to. You brought a few more along with you. I am very proud of you.”

 They started to leave when Mario spoke up.

 “Wait, now how am to get Linda back? I don’t know how.”

 Jesus took his hand and smiled. He stroke it slowly then stroked his head as father would a child’s.

 “Lift your need to God and trust He will answer. Remember God, the Father, is a God of Promise. He told the Israelite’s of old, IF YOU I WILL, God will answer your prayer.” Jesus turned back to Gabriela. “We must go. Her work is done here. She has done her job well but now it is time for them to work on it on their own.” He looked at Mario. “Do so in prayer and forgiveness. Talk, do not yell. Discuss not argue. Include those closest to you, your children. They have a say as well.”

 Mario nodded and took angel’s hand and his sons hands. They watched Gabriela and Jesus walkout the door. Angel looked at Mario and smiled. Mario wiped away the tears. He leaned down to kiss each one of his children’s foreheads. He looked out the window and they were gone. Angel jumped when she heard the phone ring. She picked it up.

 “Hello.” Angel said.

 “Hello baby, is daddy home?”

 Angel passed Mario the phone.

 “Hello.”

 “Mario, I want to come home.” Mario fell to his knees and wept openly. Angel looked at her brothers.

 “Mommy.”

 The boys smiled wide.

 “Yes, Yes, come home. We will come pick you up then we can talk.”

 Epilogue

 “Good morning Jesus, this is Angel. I wanted to let you know that it has been three years since Mommy came home. Things have been great. They don’t fight like they use to and they go to church every chance they get.

 “Jesus, the best part about it is that, you are gonna love this, is that they gave me a baby sister. When they were choosing a name, they chose Gabriela. I gots to go Jesus. Mom is calling and breakfast is ready. One thing though, let the baby mommy is carrying be a girl. He he he. I love you Jesus, talk to you soon.”

 FINI

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The Love Of My Life!

 rosie

On Feb 25, 1955, the love of my life was born. She was given the name Rosemarie Dawn Archer. She lived 40 years. She was in her 41st year when she died. That was the day that my heart got a hole so big in it that you could drive a tractor trailer through it and even after 20 years (this year on November 11) that hole is still there. Nothing and no one can fill it. They say that no matter what you think, you only get one true soul mate. Rose was mine.

We met at a bible study in 1979. She was shy and quiet. She was sweet and cute and she made my heart skip a beat. We went to see the movie Jesus and sat beside each other. I took her hand in mine and we sat like that the rest of the movie. We started dating and I fell in love. We went to the same church and we were almost inseparable.

We moved in together in 1980. We were happy and truth be told, she was my first. We lived in this basement apartment that I constantly hit my head on the pipes. One day when she was sick I proposed. I was on my knees peeling potatoes and she was on her third cup of hot chocolate. She came out of the living room and asked for more. I took the cup and asked her if she would marry me. She giggled and said yes and went back to the living room. A few minutes later she came back and asked me if I had proposed and I said yes and that she had said yes and she skipped back to the living room and got on the phone to tell her sisters.

August 29th, 1981 at 12 Noon the wedding took place at Knox Flox Presbyterian Church in Crossland Ontario. It was so black that we were sure that it was going to storm and make it miserable but the rain stayed away till after the wedding and a few pictures were taken before the reception. It is a day I will never forget. Some of the names are foggy but the sight of seeing her walk down the aisle brought me to tears. I was about to marry the love of my life.

We had our honeymoon at the Barrie Continental Inn and it was a wonderful time. I even carried her across the threshold.  We started on a journey that would take us from living in Toronto, to moving back to Barrie. From cheating on each other to fixing it and realizing that we couldn’t live without each other. We went through a battle to keep our apartment and won. We went through a number of landlords and finally got one we liked.

In 92 my dad died and I got the call from Rose and I cried, not for long but I did cry. He was my father and even though I was not his biggest fan, I had enough respect for him to cry. A week later I was at my church’s office and I was trying to fix their computer when I got another call from Rose that they had found something wrong with her blood.

That started a 3 and half year battle with Leukemia. Inside I wanted to scream but on the outside I had to show strength cause I knew that Rose would need me to lean on. She was strong but knew that she had me to hold onto and I was her sounding board, her slapping post. More than once she hit me not cause she was mad at me but because she needed to release some tension and some anger. I was there for that, not because I was a wimp but because that is what a husband is suppose to do.

I held her hand while she went through chemo. I was there when she had to spend time at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto for a few weeks. I would go down and stay at their family building, free of charge, and be able to see her. She was despondent one day that she wanted to die. I was very honest with her. I told her that if she wanted to die then she best get on with it and get it over with but that while she did that she should think about her family and me. How that would make us feel and that I would be alone. A week or so later, she was out of isolation and in a normal room. No more gowns and gloves.

She was to going home soon  and I couldn’t wait for her to come home. I was so tired of sleeping alone and not hearing her snore beside me. Yes it’s true, if you just hold on, the snoring becomes normal background noise that is so important to your life. We spent the night in the guest services building and had one of the rooms to ourselves. We made love for the first time in weeks and it was wonderful. We cried and laughed and enjoyed each other. 

The next morning she noticed  little white spots on her body. What we thought was Host vs Graft disease, turned out to be chicken pox. That was on a Tuesday. On Saturday November 11 1995 at 11:20ish PM I got the call from the hospital. The love of my life was gone. All that strength I had had crumbled and I was standing in the kitchen stark naked and I screamed. I cried out and I was crushed.

I was surrounded by family and friends. We had the viewing, closed casket, and we talked about her. All the time all I wanted to do was crawl in the casket with her. To be cremated with her so we could spend the rest of eternity together. As far as I was concerned, my life was over. I had no reason to live anymore.

Rose was my world. I have to admit that I loved her more than I loved Jesus. I woke up to her every morning and went to bed with her every night. We made plans and even went through adoption proceedings only to have them dashed when she was diagnosed. It killed me to tell her that we had to stop them. Maybe we should have kept going. Maybe I would have had the child I had always wanted.

That was then this is now. For twenty years I have, in one way or another, mourned the loss of my love. The woman that I gave my heart to and my virginity. She held me and smacked me. Loved me and hated me. Made love with me and we enjoyed each other. Through it all, if I had to do it all again I would in a heartbeat. I would go through it all again if it meant I could have Rose back.

She was my 4 foot ten and half inch dynamo that loved her friends and family. She loved her husband more and even through all the trouble, she was happy. One day I know that she will be in my arms once more and that we will be together for the rest of time.