They may be disguised in whiskers, feathers or fur, but God's angels are often surrounding us.
- Posted on Apr 26, 2020
First thing every morning, I logged onto Facebook, looking forward to greetings and prayer requests from friends and family near and far. Today, however, I was met with the sad news that a friend had passed away suddenly. I would so miss her loving smile and the encouraging words in her posts. My favorite was the one she would post on the ﬁrst of the month. “Rabbits, rabbits, everyone!” she’d write. It was a good luck ritual she’d picked up when she lived in England.
I closed my laptop to get some fresh air. Filling a pitcher with seed, I made my way to the bird feeder, counting on my colorful visitors to bring me some solace. As I poured in the seed, something moved under the dogwood tree. A large brown rabbit was hopping around in circles, nibbling at some fallen birdseed. The rabbit wiggled his nose in my direction before happily hopping away. “Rabbits, rabbits,” my friend seemed to say, smiling down on me from heaven.
Crouching down, I shined the ﬂashlight under a row of parked cars, hoping to catch a glimpse of our cat Franklin hiding from the rain. My wife and I had realized he was missing when our other cat, Saranac, showed up alone at the food bowl for breakfast. I wasn’t too surprised that Franklin had made an escape. He was always staring outside and meowing or craning his neck to smell the wind from any open window.
We’d been searching for him for hours. “Honey, I think it’s time to call it a night. We’ll make some ﬂiers and post on Facebook.”
“You’re right, but I hate to think of him out here, scared and alone,” she said.
Worry kept us awake long after we got in bed. Who would watch over him?
Saranac’s loud meowing woke me in the middle of the night. I sat up and looked past the bedroom door into the living room. The moonlight outlined the silhouette of two cats touching noses in angel kisses. Could it be?
I ran to welcome Franklin home, his wet paw prints trailing from an open window. Franklin purred as I carried him into the bedroom to give my wife the good news, heralded by Saranac’s meows.
We were a blended family: me and Bentley, my shih tzu–Maltese, and Mark and Ellie, his golden Lab. Thankfully, our dogs hit it off despite their very different dispositions. Bentley was a nervous little dog who barked at everything. Ellie stood by for protection, patiently waiting until the ﬁt of barking was over. But at the next unexpected sound, Bentley would start up again. Several times a day, they ran around the yard together, until Ellie had enough and came hurtling up the steps of the back deck with the loud clatter of her big paws. Bentley was always close behind.
But as Ellie got older, her energy waned. She had difﬁculty moving around. No more bounding up the back-deck stairs. We knew we would soon have to say goodbye.
The weekend after she died, Mark and I curled up on the couch with our books. Bentley slept near us on one of the cushions. We all looked up at the unexpected clattering coming from the back deck. Bentley looked toward the sound, stared intently, then laid his head back down without so much as a yip. Bentley didn’t bark because he knew who it was. Ellie had come to say goodbye.
Troubling stories on the news were stressing me out, so I put on my boots and drove to a nature trail by the river. It was a relaxing place to unwind, and I was familiar with the local wildlife. I started down the trail, hoping the walk would help clear my head, but my anxiety followed me. So much for getting a new perspective, I thought.
I heard a noise to my left and saw a scrub jay perched on a branch at eye level. The jay looked at me and squawked, as if it were anxious as well. “Hey, buddy,” I said. “What’s wrong?”
The bird made a soft coo. I looked at it twice. It was a scrub jay, all right, native to the area. But I’d never heard one make such a pleasant sound. It kept going on, looking at me as it began to whistle and tweet. Was it trying to comfort me? I whistled to comfort the bird back.
My friend focused on me as we had our “conversation.” At the end of it, the scrub jay hopped up one branch higher, ﬂuffed its feathers and ﬂew away. I continued on the trail, my worries less burdensome, thanks to the world’s most unique scrub jay.
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