Dolores pulled on her snow boots and heavy winter coat. She wrapped a long wool scarf around her neck and pulled her knit hat down firmly over her ears. Tugging on an old pair of gloves, she took her cane in hand and shuffled out the door and down the well-worn path leading to the woods behind her house.
At the edge of the woods sat an old bench that had been there for years and years, as long as Dolores could remember. Slowly she lowered herself onto the bench, breathing heavily from the effort of walking the short distance. She didn't get around as well as she used to, and it frustrated her to no end. Still she came here to this sacred spot as often as she could, it was a place she loved to be.
Dolores was first drawn to this spot as a young child. She had been out playing in the yard and thought she saw movement at the edge of the trees, then she heard laughter. Moving closer she had been amazed to see a beautiful woman standing there, surrounded by a glowing light. Unafraid, Dolores had approached the woman who was smiling directly at her. As she drew next to her, Dolores noted that she did not see the woman's feet beneath her long flowing gown, she appeared to be floating in the air just above the ground.
With the curiosity of a child, Dolores spoke first, "Who are you, what is your name?" The woman responded that her name was Sophia and that she was Dolores' guardian angel.
"You're an angel?" asked Dolores, amazed. "You are my angel? Where are your wings?"
Sophia smiled and said that she didn't really need wings, that she was able to move about freely by just floating on the air. She demonstrated by rising up to a nearby tree branch and retrieving a beautiful pinecone, which she handed to Dolores.
"Can I do that, can I float?" Dolores asked with great excitement.
Sophia laughed and Dolores recognized the beautiful laughter she had heard earlier.
"Were you laughing at me before?" she demanded.
Sophia nodded and said that she had been enjoying watching Dolores trying to convince a squirrel to approach her so that she could feed him from her hand. Dolores agreed that it was difficult to gain the squirrel's trust.
Dolores and Sophia visited for what seemed like a long time that afternoon, and the memory had remained fresh in Dolores' mind ever since, as if it had just happened yesterday. They had shared many visits in the years since then. It seemed that whenever Dolores needed to sort things out in her mind, all she had to do was go sit on the old bench next to the woods, and Sophia was sure to appear and talk with her.
Dolores had tried to tell her friends about Sophia, her very own guardian angel, when she was small, but they had laughed and didn't believe her. She told her mother too, who commented on her vivid imagination. After that she just kept her visits with Sophia to herself; it didn't matter what anyone else thought, she knew that her angel was very real.
Dolores had remained at the farm all her life, leaving only for a few years of college so she could become a teacher. When she married Joe her parents decided to retire in town and had left the farm to Joe and Dolores as a wedding gift.
Joe had departed for the Spirit World a few years back, but Sophia had assured Dolores that he was just fine there with all her beloved cats and dogs who had crossed the Rainbow Bridge in years gone by, waiting for her when it was her turn to come.
The snow began to fall softly as Dolores sat on the bench, dusting her coat and gloves with a sprinkling of white. Dolores smiled with the same sense of delight she had felt as a child witnessing the first snowfall of the year. Then she heard the sound of laughter, and there was Sophia sitting right beside her! Sophia put her arms around Dolores and held her close; her glowing light filled Dolores with warmth.
"It's time now," Sophia said gently. "Time for you to come home with me, Joe is waiting for you."
Dolores smiled with excitement, just as she had on that day long ago when she first met Sophia.
The next day her family found her, having gone looking for her when she didn't respond to their phone calls. They found her there on the bench, frozen in the snow, with the most peaceful, beautiful smile on her face that anyone could imagine.
This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are sacred and store.