“How do you know when you’ve walked in the presence of an angel?” I began. The church, the largest in our town was almost full, and I could feel the raw emotion of the gathering. We had come together to grieve the loss of a young woman who I had come to love. Grateful for the podium that hid my shaking knees, I paused to stifle a sob. I wanted this eulogy to truly honour Dee, so it was important that my message was heard.
I spoke of Dee’s life: her relationships, her passions, and this third battle with cancer, which had taken her life, at the tender age of twenty-three. Dee had a way of weaving herself into the lives of those she met, with a gentleness of nature and an unassuming curiosity. She embraced life as if each new encounter was a sumptuous delicacy to be explored and consumed appreciatively. She was nineteen when I first met her and was charmed by her sweetness.
I wrote Dee’s eulogy the week before she died. It came to me one day, as I held the sleeping Dee cradled in my arms. I had been coming to visit her everyday since the last diagnosis. She had asked me too. “I am afraid,” she’d said at first, but that fear soon gave way to acceptance, as Dee sought to find purpose in her short life. “It’s my destiny,” she told me two weeks in. “I need to make my time here count.”
The theme of Dee’s eulogy was inspired by a dream I had just weeks before she died. It was one of those dreams in which you find yourself fully conscious: a lucid dream. I awoke, in my dream, to find an angel standing in my doorway. She faced away from me, but the expanse of her wings and the light that eminated from her, were unmistakably angelic. Her gown shimmered in an ephemeral way and I felt almost blinded by her presence. Neither of us spoke a word, but as she turned, I recognized the face before me. It was Dee.
The dream made perfect sense to me. Dee had drawn me into her life at one of my darkest moments. Unbeknownst to her, the pain and hopelessness that I had been feeling on the fateful day she called me for help had made me contemplate ending my life. Her insistence that I accompany her through the last two months of her life, gave me renewed purpose for living.
“How do you know that you’ve walked in the presence of an angel?” I ended. “Because your life has been forever changed and transformed. Our lives have been touched by an angel, whose presence will remain ever etched in our hearts. We are all better people for having known her.”