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Heaven Sent

You will suffer and you will hurt. You will have joy and peace.
Allison Cheek

Making the transition from middle school to high school is always a tough one. Luckily, I had my five best friends, Kylie, Lanie, Mindy, Laura, and Angela, to help me through it. We experienced our most important moments together and shared everything, the good and the bad. Their friendship completed me. With their help, I went from being a shy little girl to a confident and excited young woman. Life without them was unimaginable, or so I thought.

The unexpected all began on a beautiful spring day during my sophomore year. Life was perfect. It was a Friday and weekend was upon us. After my friends and I made our plans, I said good-bye to each of them and gave them all a great big hug. As always, I told them I love them and we went on our ways.

Laura and I decided to go to the mall and do some shopping before we went out that night. As we returned to her house, I noticed something very odd: both of her parents were home and waiting outside. I knew right away how peculiar this was, since even Laura seemed surprised to see her father home so early. As we approached the door, Laura’s father quietly uttered,” Reality is going to hit right now.” My stomach sank and my heart began to pound quickly. What was he about to tell us?

Once I found out, I no longer wanted to know what he was trying to say. Seeking comfort, I looked into the eyes of Laura’s mother but saw her eyes fill up with nothing but tears. As she tried to speak, she choked on her words. But slowly the words came. The five words that would forever destroy my life were, “There has been an accident.”

Images of people I loved racing through my mind as my heart began to beat faster. My first instinct was to retreat to denial. Nothing was wrong, nothing happened, and no one was hurt. This would all go away and things would be back to normal in the morning. Unfortunately, I couldn’t run away from the truth. I sat on the edge of my seat in shock as I was told the news.

My best friends had been in an accident. Lanie and Mindy had walked away. Kylie, however was in bad shape. I soon realized no one was telling me what happened to Angela. As I prepared to ask, I took a deep breath and swallowed hard. Deep down inside, I already knew what I didn’t want to hear. I tried to ignore my instincts. After all, Angela couldn’t be dead. She was only fifteen!

Then the news came and there was nowhere I could run to escape. Angela was dead. After hearing the news all I could do was laugh. This had to be some kind of sick joke. My inner refusal to accept what I had been told prevented me from crying. I had no tears. I was in shock, utter shock. From the moment the accident had happened, each of our lives had been changed forever.

As I arrived at the hospital, the first person I saw was Lanie. Even though it was truly was Lanie, this wasn’t my Lanie. The Lanie I knew was full of spunk. As I looked into her eyes, I thought I was looking into the eyes of a stranger. For the first time in our lives, she was out of reach. I was devastated to see her in so much pain. She couldn’t even speak to me.

As if that was hard enough, I was told that before I could see Kylie, there were certain conditions I had to agree to. I was to remain clam and tell her everything was going to be okay. The hardest part, though, was being told I couldn’t cry, because this would upset her. I quickly agreed. I just wanted to see her.

I walked up to the emergency room to find Kylie hooked up to many machines. She was screaming and crying. It was beyond difficult to pretend that all was well when all I could see what the hell she was going through. My heart stopped. She was in agony and I could do nothing but watch. As I told her I loved her, I felt my eyes well up with tears, so I turned and ran away.

Once, outside of Kylie’s room, I tried to regain my composure. However, I panicked once again when I found out Angela’s father was on his way over to the hospital to check on the other girls. My only instinct was to run, and that is exactly what I did. I ran as fast as I could to the other side of the hospital. I was not running away from him, but from the truth, I just couldn’t bear facing him. I knew if I did, I would have to face the truth that Angela was gone forever. I wasn’t ready for that truth. Somewhere deep down, I was still hoping that this was really an awful nightmare that I wasn’t going to awake from any minute. Unfortunately it wasn’t.

That night all of my friends gathered at Laura’s house. We consoled each other and reminisced about the times we had shared with Angela, times that we would have no more. At this point, I was still not allowing myself to grieve. If I did, it would mean that I believed it was true. I knew it was true but I could not accept it, so I didn’t.

Later that week was the viewing. The once-vibrant young woman lay lifeless and cold. That was not my Angela: I did not know or recognize that person. What followed was the funeral. That was where the spirit of the Angela that I knew actually was.

It was a beautiful sight to see the community come together to express their love for her. The microphone was open to all of those who wanted to share their personal memories or their love for Angela. Seeing all the people that were there to remember her made me realize that Angela not only touched my life but the lives of everyone she came into contact with. She was my sunshine, and now without her my days were darker. How does a person live without the love, security and warmth of her best friend?

I didn’t think my life could get any worse, but I was wrong. Without notice, I was told my parents were getting a divorce. As soon as I heard the news, I automatically wanted to call Angela. After all, she was the one I always ran to when I needed someone to talk to or cheer me up. But she was gone.

All my friends were still hurting from the devastation of losing Angela, so I didn’t think I could burden them with my new crisis. I ended up feeling completely lost and abandoned. I bottled up all my thoughts, questions and frustrations inside of me. I thought it meant I was strong. It took me sometime before I realized that there was someone that would always be there for me no matter what happened: God. He always had a way of coming into my life with open arms when I had nowhere left to run. I soon learned that god had a mysterious way of working. This time, he placed a situation in my life path that enabled me to grow as an individual.

Unexpectedly, Brenda Hampton, the creator, writer, and executive producer of 7th Heaven, came to me and asked if I would be willing to do an episode about “dealing with the death of a young friend.” Up until this point, I had not let myself grieve over the loss of Angela. Simply put, I had been acting. I had put up this perfect fašade that I was totally happy. When Brenda asked me if I was willing to do this episode, I suddenly realized that I needed to let go of m emotions and fears if I ever wanted to get over my pain. As a result, I agreed to what Brenda proposed and she developed, “Nothing Endures but Change.”

At first, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional tidal wave that would be released. Filming that episode was both emotionally and physically exhausting. Emotions that I had ignored for so long were now being unleashed. And I did not know how I was going to deal with them. Luckily, this time around I felt comfortable enough to turn to my friends and family for the love, advice, and security that only they could offer. I came to realization it was okay to hurt. Once the tears came, they didn’t stop until weeks after. That was when I realized that even though Angela wasn’t physically with us any longer, her spirit had never left my side.

One day after visiting Angela’s grave at the cemetery, I was listening to the radio. I noticed that the songs played were those I had associated with Angela and our friendship. Five of “our” songs played back to back. As I cam over a hill, I saw a beautiful rainbow. I immediately got chills all over my back. I knew this was a sign and instantly cause me to smile. To all of my friends and me, rainbows had symbolized our friendship with Angela. There she was, as beautiful as ever, just reminding me that she was still by my side and had never truly left me. I cried, but this time out of happiness and joy. I knew then that I have an angel watching over me, now and forever, and her name is Angela.

Beverley Mitchell
Copyright Chicken Soup For the Preteen Soul