Do Earth Angels Really Exist?
Do earth angels really exist? is a story I wrote about, Marvin Good, a young man and his nurse I met at a hospital many years ago while doing volunteer work in college with the People Who Care Club. She told me that she learned so much from him and that if angels could be human that Marvin was an earth angel. I wrote the story based on visits there and from notes that I took from conversations I had with his nurse. I have changed part of their names for privacy reasons. Every time I think about that special unusual young man I weep tears of joy for the honor and privilege to have met such a special soul, and I weep tears of for sorrow because I miss him so much!
People were always drawn to Marvin. How could they not be? There was just something special about him. Nurse Sarah Jones gently tip-toed into the hospital room. She was carrying a small cake, a candle with the numbers 16 on it, and a big red helium balloon. Marvin loved balloons. He once told her that his fantasy was to grab a big handful of balloons and to float all the way to Heaven. Sarah did not really believe in heaven or God; she had witnessed too many hardships and tragedies that hardened her heart. Life was a daily struggle. She simply had no time to think about a mighty supreme being that probably did not exist, and if he did then why was the world in such a mess? Still, she admired and respected Marvin’s beliefs and she loved listening to him. He always had a big twinkle in his eyes and cheerful things to say. No matter how bad he felt or when the coughing fits came, Marvin still managed to spread cheer and to tell a few jokes.
Sarah set the cake on the stand and tied the balloon next to it. She looked at Marvin. His eyes were closed. His Bible was next to him. “That boy will read the scriptures and say his prayers until the day he dies. Even though she never read the Bible she loved hearing Marvin recite passages and he would make some very astute comments as well. She had even come to like the Twenty-Third Psalm and its poetic lyrical beauty. She looked at him. Sleeping like a baby, are we? Well, you do need your beauty rest, handsome man.” Marvin looked as peaceful as a newborn baby. “Let him rest,” she said softly. “Maybe sleep will give him some strength. The last few days he had not slept well, and the doctor had forbidden her to increase the dosage of his sleeping medicine. And his coughing had gotten worse. “It’s not fair,” she said, then put her hand over her mouth, not wanting to awaken Marvin. He’s not even eighteen yet and he contracts bone cancer and tuberculosis. She looked at Marvin’s head; he was nearly bald and he was losing more weight. Sarah had watched her grand mother waste away to cancer ten years ago. She wondered why she was having to go through this again.”
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself, girl,” she said, wiping away tears. “Marvin is the one who suffers and you dare to indulge in self pity.” She put the cake in the small refrigerator. Marvin loved chocolate ice-cream and his mother decided that he needed to have it whenever he wanted. The truth was that Marvin’s appetite had reduced enormously in the past month. He would give the ice-cream to his fellow patients who liked to stop by and say hello to the young man with the sunshine smile and big twinkle in his eyes. Several of the older women on the cancer ward called him God’s little earth angel.
This always infuriated Sarah because from the way she looked at it, how could a God, if he did exist, allow such a beautiful sweet young man to suffer so much? And what made it more heartbreaking was that Marvin never complained. How could one bear such suffering and not become bitter? It made no sense to her. When she would sometimes break down and cry, Marvin would take a handkerchief out of the drawer and wipe her tears, saying, “Now Sarah, Jones, you dry it up right now. Everything is fine. I will go home to be with God when he calls me. There is nothing we can do about it. So you just take that sad look off your face right this instant.” He would sometimes take out his clown makeup cream and draw a big smiley face on her face and tell her funny stories. She always wound up laughing.
Marvin had big dreams of being a professional writer. Even when the coughing fits struck or the terrible headaches came, he would take out his tablet and jot down a few verses, a poem, or some limericks. Sarah wondered where he got the ideas that he jotted down. Yes, Marvin was talented, and why would a God let such talent go to waste?
She wanted to ask Marvin about that sometime and she would. But not yet. First Marvin had to get stronger and hopefully the cancer would go into remission. The doctors said there was a fifty-fifty chance; that we had to cross our fingers and take it one day at a time. And if we believed in prayer, a few prayers could never hurt. Sarah would almost gulp, but she refrained from showing her displeasure at hearing any mention of God.
She put the cake in the refrigerator beside the two pints of haggandas chocolate. She started walking away but noticed the tablet next to his arm. Marvin had invited her to read his tablet anytime, but she did not feel right about doing that. Sometimes he would read things that he wrote, but to just take his tablet and read was just not appropriate. For some reason she found herself walking back towards Marvin. He was breathing softly. She felt his forehead. His fever had gone down. He is probably having one of his flying dreams, she thought. Maybe I will buy him a big bunch of balloons so he can fly to Heaven. He is so convincing when he says that in his child- like tone of voice. Sarah gently reached for the tablet and opened it. She skimmed some poems and one page was full of smiley faces. Under each one Marvin had written God is Love and he loves you! Then she turned the next page and came upon something much longer. “My,” she sighed. “He has written a story and he wrote it all today. Goodness sakes, dear me. I guess he got a second wind or something.” She looked at the title and date that he had printed with a fine point red marker. A Letter To God by Marvin Sanders. “Okay, Marvin,” she whispered, “I am finally taking you up on your offer to read from your tablet.” She sat in the chair beside Marvin’s bed and read.
“Hello, God. It’s me, Marvin. Marvin Good to be exact. I’m sure you already know that but I thought I’d tell you anyway, because to be honest, and without not trying to be arrogant, I am proud of my last name. It is one I try to live up to, and my last name is almost like yours. The reason I wanted to talk to you is that I have some views I would like to express, and I see no reason why I should talk to anyone else when I can talk to you like any kid should be able to talk with their parent about things they think about and question. I recently read an article from a man who claimed to have a talk with you too. I guess I’m not the only one with the courage to speak directly to you. I suppose that could be a good thing. If people would talk to you more informally instead of by pious, praying and such, perhaps they would have better luck getting through. Perhaps you might even speak back to them.
Anyhow, this man had all of these questions for you. He was rather upset about all the rotten things and happenings taking place in the world. I can understand that, but what I don’t understand is why he assumed that you were responsible for all of the bad things that happen in the world. He was demanding too. He wanted you to come up with a cure for cancer and AIDS, end all wars and make men as well as women be able to have babies. He blamed you for all of the children who are born in war ravaged countries and places where disease and violence abound. What I wonder is why do people dwell on the negative things so much and blame you for things they should work out for themselves. Is it your fault that the basic nature of people is one of greed and selfishness? If there were no greed or feeling of superiority and separation from other human beings, there would be no reason to try to exploit or horde the world’s resources or to hurt anyone. We have enough raw materials, goods and food to feed, clothe, and provide everyone with what they need.
I think it we who are the problem and not you. Another thing that I truly do not understand, which disturbs me to no end, is why people do not take you up on your holy words and promises. You said that if we put you first that our needs would be provided for. You, or rather, your precious son Jesus, said that if we ask, we will receive, if we knock the door will open, and if we seek we will find. Why would you or he say something and not mean it? By the way most people live it’s pretty obvious that few have the courage or interest in learning to love and trust you to care for them like you do the lilies of the field and the birds in the air.
People go through life settling for so little. Since when is misery and unhappiness our birthright? I have trusted you since I took you into my heart when I was twelve years old. Maybe it’s because my life at home was difficult and I had no one to turn to but you that made me reach out. Or maybe I am just an idealist who takes risks and is a little daring. When I’d read your holy words they became alive and real to me. I knew they rang of truth and I knew that you would keep your promises. I would only need to do my part by making some efforts to help myself along with reaching out to you.
I knew at age ten that you would get me away from my mean father and find a nice home for me somewhere. I’d pray for this every night when I’d star gaze while my dad was mistreating my mother. “I’m going to get away from here,” I’d repeat over and over, and God is going to help me. My sister would call me an idealistic dreamer. What is wrong with that I’d say? They say that God works in mysterious ways. I totally believe that you had a hand in me going to foster homes.
You have always been there for me and you are always there for everyone who believes and reaches out to you. I just wonder why people try to tell you what to do and how they can make such unreasonable demands or even demand that you prove your existence by performing some miracle that will eliminate all of their doubts. You work in so many different ways. You know what you are doing. You can speak to anyone’s heart and inspire them to reach out and assist a soul in need.
“Things have always worked out for me. Even so-called bad things can have meaning and purpose and a positive side if we look beneath appearances. Maybe the reason I am in this hospital is so I can spread cheer and hope to others and have the time to write the inspirational pieces that I feel you give to me. I’ve almost filled up two tablets, you know. I truly want to promote your teachings as best I can. From what I understand we must love you first and then love our neighbor as our self. And we must be willing to get up and make some efforts. Be ‘doers’ as well as dreamers.
“So many people have sour faces these days, and you see them in the churches as well. We were born to be happy and to have all of the things that we need. We deserve them and as long as we are willing to do our part we will never lack. Why do people give up on their dreams and settle for jobs which may pay the bills but drain their energy and their joy? Making a living is not the same thing as living a happy life. Jesus promised us that he came that we may have life abundantly. We are supposed to do what we like and earn a good living at the same time. With God all things are possible is commonly heard in the church. People often say this or smile when hearing it said, but how many truly believe that with God all is possible? Too many people have bored weary looks on their faces. Some are artistic at heart but have given that up for a more practical approach to life. They may have insurance, a nice home and car, but their souls are starving and their spirits are half-numb. That is hardly living if you ask me.
“I don’t mean to go on about all of this. I just want to let you know that there are some people who appreciate you and do not try to figure out everything or expect you to fix their lives and do for them what they need to do for themselves. I want you to know that I have put you in charge of making dreams come true. Faith is real. It does work. It even moves mountains if we do not doubt in our hearts. I know there are others who believe in you and love you and do not doubt in their hearts. They turn to you for help and listen to your still small voice which speaks when the mind is calm. I think that you will answer our questions and those answers can come in countless ways-from a book, a poem, a song, a call from a friend, an inspirational talk or lecture.
“Dear God, thank you for listening to me. I’ll be talking to you soon. I feel that my days are numbered, but that is of no concern to me. When you call me home, I will be ready to embark upon another grand and wonderful adventure. I know that I will not be alone. Thank you for listening to me. You know how I have always loved to write. Maybe this will find its way into someone’s hands and be of some inspiration to them. Well, I’m feeling pretty weak and tired now. I think I could use some sleep. So I’ll sign off. Bye for now.
“If earth angels exist then I believe this young man is one,” Sarah said as she wiped away tears. “Maybe God does exist and he brought Marvin into my life to teach me something. It occurred to her that maybe she would even come to accept God into her life. If Heaven were real, then she felt certain that Marvin would be there with the big sunshine glow around him and that twinkle in his eyes. Maybe he would even be writing stories and making people laugh with his jokes, stories and smiley faces.
Sarah gently laid the tablet back next to Marvin’s sheet. She smiled as she looked at her watch. It was 9 p.m. Ten more minutes and her shift was up. “Good,” she said, “I can use a nice hot herbal bath and a glass of champagne. “Maybe I’ll even drink one for you, Marvin.”
The next day Sarah decided to visit Marvin first before making her rounds. She usually visited him last near the end of her shift so she would have more time with him. Everyone knew how attached she had become to Marvin, and the story about her grand mother who had died of bone cancer. For some reason she found herself walking to Marvin’s room. When she opened the door, the bed was empty. “Oh,” my goodness sakes,” she cried out. “Where is he?” Her friend Julie Carlson stepped inside and reached out to Sarah. “I’m so sorry, Sarah, but Marvin passed away. They think he died in his sleep last night.”
Sarah broke out into sobs. Julie held her closely. “I was there last night, Julie, right before my shift ended. He was sleeping peacefully like a baby.”
“That is the best way to go, Sarah, you know that.”
Sarah reached into the drawer and took out a silk pink hand kerchief. It was one that Marvin’s grand mother had given him many years ago he had said. “I brought him a birthday cake, candles and a balloon last night. I didn’t even get to give it to him,” she said, crying harder.
“Marvin knew you thought of him,” Julie assured her. “We all know how special Marvin was. Somehow I think he was touched by the hand of God. I know you don’t believe in God, Julie, but you know how Marvin did. And he will want you to be strong. I believe that he was aware on some level that you were there.”
“I don’t know what I believe anymore,” Julie, but I hope that Marvin was somehow aware of me. I love him. He was like my own child.”
“I know,” Julie said. “Oh, yes, here is a little note, that Marvin wrote for you.”
Sarah wiped away more tears then read.
“My sweet nurse and friend, Sarah. My time is about up. I am going to Heaven to be with God and his angels. I want you to know that I have not really died. I have just taken residence in my spirit body. God has given me a new body and a new life with my Lord and Savior await me. I want you to have my tablet and if you see fit, please type up my letter to God and give it to whoever you think might benefit from it. It comes from my heart. And promise me that you and Julie will finish up the cake and ice cream. You know how I can’t stand having food go to waste. Take real good care of yourself and know that someday we will meet in Heaven. I never told you but I have never believed you are an atheist. I also would like for you to have my Bible. I told the director to be sure that you got it. My dear, Sarah, thank you for everything. I have enjoyed knowing you and our visits. Think of me fondly and I will you as well. Your loving friend, Marvin Good.”
“I read his tablet last night.” Sarah said. “Marvin always said I was welcome to read from his tablet anytime. It made me feel closer to him that he offered to share his deepest thoughts and feelings, but it never felt it right to do so. Last night for the first, time I opened his tablet, while he was sleeping and I read his letter to God. How he could have such understanding and love for life and faith while his body was wasting away and dying is something I cannot comprehend.”
“I think that you will one day,” Julie said softly. “Take his tablets and treasure them. When you read through them I think you might find some answers.”
Sarah lit up. “You think so. Well since Marvin wanted me to have them, I will be honored to keep and protect them.”
“I think that will make Marvin very happy,” Julie said. “Now let’s finish off that cake and ice-cream just as Marvin asked us too. You know how he was always telling us we need to put on a few pounds.”
Sarah took some matches from her purse. “Let’s light the candle for Marvin and sing Happy Birthday to him. Sweet sixteen to Marvin, she said, waving her hand in the air. “Wherever you are.”
“Yes, let’s sing to Marvin,” Julie answered. I know that he would like that.”
Sarah dreamt of Marvin that night. He had the same twinkling smile but this time there was a radiant glow about him. He told her that he was fine and after chatting a few moments he asked her to open her heart and let Jesus and God enter her life. She awoke with tears on her face. It was so real. It felt more like a vision than a dream. Sarah felt relief and some comfort and believed that Marvin was alright. Even if it had only been a dream, she knew that somehow Marvin had made contact. She also knew that she would go to church on Sunday and accept Jesus as her personal savior. If not for herself, she would do it for Marvin. It was worth a try. She knew that it would make Marvin happy. Perhaps in time her new faith would give her peace of mind and some joy. The thought made her feel a little light-hearted.
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