Speaking of Angels

I cannot recall my age when an angel began appearing to me. I named her j. Marie. In those days I named everything. Even the big, black, Dempsey Dumpsters who graciously allowed me to climb into their canavous bellies where I scrounged for any available morsels, those things still edible, having been carelessly tossed away by the grocery store, or at least that was my seven year old interpretation of how perfectly good food stuffs happened into the dumpsters .

My favorite dumpster, I named She She. She She hardly smelled at all, at least not as bad as the others. I imagined that she invited me inside her dwelling which is why she managed to always have old tires or wooden crates near for my seven year old bare feet to climb up high then sort of tumble into her. I pretended that it made her happy that I had noticed her and her abundant offerings. She She also offered refuge from the people I feared, of whom there were many. Which brings me back to j. Marie.

Long into my adulthood I had assumed that j. Marie was an imaginary friend. I was much too embarrassed to tell anyone that she remained with me well into my teens. One day I was thinking about our long ago friendship and it occurred to me that I, of myself, could not have possibly spoken to me in the ways j. Marie spoke to me. I did not have the wherewithal to speak those
words of comfort to myself. Come to think of it, her words were more like a whisper.

Just before sinking into the black hole of depression, or while begging the Jesus, Mary and Joseph status peering down from my grandmother’s altar to let me please die, there she’d be, whispering soft words of comfort. Beseeching me to breathe, just breathe, she whispered.

In those days, going for a car ride on Sunday afternoon’s was a common source of family entertainment. My grandmother always declined─besides she was agoraphobic but no one knew that word back then─so it was just my two brothers, Mom and Dad.

Dad always fortified himself with a pint of booze before we left the driveway, and mother, well I am not sure if she was doing the valium thing at that time. Wouldn’t have much mattered anyway as she was just plain ugly
mad about everything.

The inevitable screaming between the two adults in the car scared us kids. I don’t know how my brothers dealt with it, except my younger brother would predictably wet his pants which offered a kind of temporary truce between my parents because now the attention focused on the boy, the momentary scapegoat. Every family has one you know, a sort of sacrificial lamb.

j. Marie would fly along side of the car talking to me, well not really talking, but somehow I always understood her meaning. Like a beaconing light, she wanted me to focus on her and what she was conveying to me. She was soft and gentle and made me feel less afraid. She encouraged me to pray for the angry mom and the drunken dad with eyes of coal or to think about certain bible passages that I remember to this day. “Let my soul take refuge, beneath the shadow of Your wings: O God!”

Maybe j. Marie was nothing more than a figment of my imagination but you often question how a child of seven could conjure up such an image much less words of comfort and wisdom. I think I will just remember her as my first guardian angel and leave it at that.

Have you ever experienced an angel?

Do you beleive in angels?

Did you ever have an imaginary friend?

Do you think j.Marie was real or imaginary?



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