Angel in the Night

In this excerpt from Best Angel Stories 2016, a little girl experiences a terrifying and glorious miracle.

- Posted on Aug 12, 2010

Illustration by Bill Maughan

The being was white, semi-opaque, a glowing form with folded wings standing straight and unwavering at the foot of my bed.

I was only six. I was terrified. I had been ill and feverish and was spending the night alone in my mother’s room, far from the communal bedroom I shared with my cousins in case I was contagious.

My father was on a Navy battleship off the coast of Korea that year, 1951. My mother, brother and I were living in Miami with my aunt and uncle.

I had always been a sickly child, struggling with colds, bronchitis, tonsillitis and unexplained fevers. Even at birth I struggled. My mother loved to tell the story of my delivery. She said she remembered waking up from the anesthetic and looking over from the delivery table to see doctors and nurses huddled around her newborn infant. I must have a beautiful baby, she thought. See how everyone’s admiring her!

Then she caught a glimpse of me, large and plump in the doctor’s hands, a bluish cast to my skin. The nurses rushed me away. Later, when a nurse brought me in for a feeding, Mother took one look at the scrawny baby in the nurse’s arms and announced, “There’s some mistake. This isn’t my baby. I saw her. She was big and fat.”

“This is your child,” the nurse replied. “She was stillborn; the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. She was bloated. For a while it was touch and go. We didn’t think we were going to save her.”

My mother thanked God for my survival that day and entrusted me ever after to his eternal care.

But I hadn’t known God’s care would mean the shimmering being I was staring at now. I’d never felt so alone and scared. I pulled the covers over my head and prayed to Jesus to help me. The humid night air closed around me until I thought I would suffocate. When I couldn’t stand it any more I peeked out from under the bedsheet.

The great white being had not moved. I tried to cry out for my mother, but could only manage the barest whisper. Not enough to hear over the thudding of my heart, much less the whirring fan on the dresser.

Could I ease out of bed and make a run for the door? Or cross the room to my mother’s dressing table to turn on the lamp? What if I tripped and fell? I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping that when I opened them the figure would be gone. But the figure stayed put no matter how many times I tried it. What did the being want?

Slivers of moonlight slanted through the venetian blinds behind my head. Maybe it’s just a reflection. An illusion, I thought. I grasped the cord and raised the blinds. Moonlight flooded the room.

I don’t know how long I stared, hovering between terror and curiosity. Finally I got up the nerve to inch to the foot of the bed, closer, closer, until the being was only inches away. Where did she go? I reached out my hand and felt only air in front of me. Was I dreaming all along?

I crawled back to my pillow, breathing fast, and said a quick prayer. When I turned around again there stood the being, as clear as before, splendid and white. She stayed there the rest of the night. I dozed off and on. Each time I awoke she was there, keeping her vigil.

Finally I awoke to sunlight and the familiar smell of frying bacon. My mother opened my door. I launched myself into her arms. “How do you feel?” she asked.

I could barely remember how sick I’d been. Instead the story of my nighttime adventure poured out. I described the large white being with wings. I confessed how scared I’d been.

“What was it, Mom?” I asked.

“I believe you’ve seen an angel,” Mom said like it was exciting.

“But it was scary!” I said.

“Lots of people are scared by angels,” Mom said. “That’s why the angels in the Bible often warn, ‘Fear not!’ They know people aren’t used to seeing something as awesome and powerful as a miracle right before their eyes. But angels are with us all the time, just like the Bible says.” She felt my forehead. “See? The angel took your fever away.”

I felt my forehead. She was right! I even felt a little proud, knowing an angel had been with me all night, and  had even let me see her. Still, the next night I slept with the light on.

I never saw my guardian angel again. But many times when I’ve prayed, struggled, faced despair and illness, I believe I’ve felt her presence near me. Perhaps one night she will return. And this time I will certainly fear not.

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