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An Ethereal Christmas Day Vision of Her Late Dog

She was mourning her beloved canine companion. Then an angel showed her that her pet was now joyous and free.

An illustration of an angel and a dog; Illustration by Mickey Paraskevas

How would I get through Christmas when my sweet dog, my ever-present companion, Freddy Lee, wouldn’t be here with me? I reached over to where he was lying next to me in bed and ran my hand slowly down his back. This is our last night together, I thought, and in a few days Christmas will come without you.

I hadn’t panicked when I noticed him limping on our walks. How bad could it be, since he’d passed his recent checkup with a clean bill of health? I was shocked when I’d taken him back to the vet only to get the worst news. Freddy Lee had an aggressive cancer with no chance of recovery. The vet talked to me for a long time. “The only humane choice is to put him down,” he finished. I was inconsolable. “Take him home with you,” the vet said. “Spend one final night together.”

I pressed closer to Freddy Lee’s body. He never left my side if he could help it, and had been that way since he first came to me as a broken, abused puppy.

“You were in such bad shape back then,” I told him softly, ruffling his black ears. His little body had been hairless and raw from the mange that ravaged him. He had been beaten and starved by the previous owner, and spent four agonizing days in the hospital after I resolved to give him the life he deserved. Freddy Lee recovered physically from that early trauma, but always bore the emotional and psychological scars. He never fully trusted anyone but me, didn’t ever want me to be out of his sight. That was the only time he felt safe. Maybe the only time he felt loved.

I gave him a gentle cuddle, wondering what would happen to him tomorrow when he breathed his last. I’d heard stories of pets crossing the rainbow bridge into grassy meadows where they ran and played all day. But Freddy Lee wouldn’t feel safe in a place like that. Not if he was alone. God, please take care of Freddy Lee, I begged. Make sure he knows he’s safe and he’s loved. Without me there with him, I didn’t know how that could be possible.

We spent the night curled up together. In the morning we returned to the vet’s office, where I held him as he passed peacefully. I took him home and buried him in my backyard alongside his favorite toys and blankets. I tried to do everything I could to make him comfortable and secure for his trip to heaven. In my heart, I knew toys and blankets could never be enough.

I’d canceled all my holiday plans and didn’t go anywhere on Christmas Eve. I’d never felt so alone. And if I felt this way, how did Freddy Lee feel? I hardly slept all night.

Christmas morning, I awoke with a pounding headache, my throat raw from crying. I sat outside by Freddy Lee’s grave. I kept imagining Freddy Lee the way he’d looked when I first saw him, terrified and quaking with fear. But this time, there was nothing I could do to soothe him. There seemed to be nothing I could do to soothe myself either.

Late in the afternoon, I draped myself across my couch and tried to get interested in my book. My eyes scanned the same sentence three times before I was ready to call it quits. I closed the book and stared at the ceiling. Some Christmas, I thought. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I caught a glimpse of Freddy Lee. When I turned my head in that direction, I realized the whole room had morphed into a never-ending sea of white. An angel now stood in what had been my living room. Prancing around beside the angel was indeed my own Freddy Lee!

Tears sprung to my eyes. An ethereal being was standing before me—but I couldn’t take my eyes off Freddy Lee, full of life once again and happy. His little paws tapped across the floor in excitement, with no sign of a limp. He was more jubilant than I’d ever seen him. My spirit felt light, like the weight of all my fears had been lifted from me.

Freddy Lee and the angel turned and walked away into the whiteness. I knew they were going toward heaven together. As soon as I registered that thought, everything shifted back to the way it had been. My living room, my couch, the book in my hands—all were restored. And seeing Freddy Lee so happy on Christmas Day restored me. I’d never received such a perfect gift.

It’s been 20 years since God blessed me with that Christmas Day vision. I’ve lost other pets since then, but the angel who walked beside a gleeful Freddy Lee continues to bring me comfort. Freddy Lee was surrounded by God’s love, a love he could feel. God wanted me to feel it too. On Christmas and every day.

For more angelic stories, subscribe to Angels on Earth magazine.

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