Shadows

There is a famous Civil War letter written by soldier and attorney Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah in which he spoke about his wishes if he should die in battle:

“If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.”

I have always loved the image of those that we have loved and lost hovering around us, silently standing in doors and just a moment too far away to touch. The soft light caught out of the corner of your eye, the whiff of wind that feels more like breath than breeze, all of these moments make me feel that Wesley is nearer to me. As the gospel song I learned as a child goes, “All night, all day, Angels watching over me.”

I know that people who pass away do not become angels. They are separate beings and people upon death are welcomed into Heaven as the souls of the faithful departed. But can a bit of them stay after they have crossed into Heaven? Quietly watching and listening like a child crouched on a staircase eavesdropping on conversations below? I feel Wesley with me, in my heart and in the air that surrounds me.

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