Copyright ©2003-2019 Thomas E.
Daniel opened the garage door and stood before it, waiting to walk underneath. The snow had stopped falling now, but had dumped almost five inches onto the driveway. He put the blade of the shovel to the concrete and began to push the snow down the driveway, making a long path down the center, forming two sections. When he got to the bottom, he turned and walked back toward the garage and started to shovel the snow into the already towering mountains that stood on either side of the driveway.
With every shovelful of snow that he threw, he remembered every Christmas his family spent together. Daniel, his wife Jasmine, and their seven-year-old daughter Maisha, always loved the holiday season. Each Christmas they would go out and find the perfect Scottish Pine tree, always the biggest one in the lot that would still fit in their living room. Together, Maisha and Daniel would put the lights on the tree and then, Jasmine and Maisha would fill it with ornaments. After they finished with all the decorations, he would lift Maisha up bringing her close to the tree, while she placed her grandmother’s star on the top.
He stopped shoveling and looked up at the living room window. He could see Maisha and Jasmine in the kitchen baking gingerbread cookies. Maisha’s smile could be seen from across town. Her sweet smile, large brown eyes, and gentle nature made Jasmine and Daniel’s life so much more. She touched everyone who knew her. She was bright, caring, and never complained about her illness. How blessed they were to have her.
A small smile grew across his face as he pushed the shovel into the snow and threw it over the ever-growing mountain of fresh powder. I will make Maisha a snow angel tomorrow, he thought. She would like that. They could look at it together through the living room window and… Daniel paused for a moment as a tear rolled down his cheek. He leaned his weight on the shovel and reaching his hand up to his face, pushed it away. “We promised we wouldn’t be sad. Not now, not this Christmas,” Daniel said aloud.
He grabbed hold of the shovel and continued throwing the snow. Reaching the bottom of the driveway, he stood up straight, holding the small of his back. He looked out over the white landscape. The tree branches were all covered with snow, sparkling with the reflection of the moonlit sky. It was a beautiful night as Daniel looked up at the countless number of stars. “God, if you could just let it be me instead. Please God, let her stay.” Daniel lowered his head and walked back toward the garage where he started to shovel the other side of the driveway.
Why someone so small and beautiful and full of life was this burden laid? Maisha had been diagnosed with Leukemia two years earlier, and though the treatments prolonged her life for a little while, the doctors recently gave her only until March. It was to be their last Christmas together. The pain inside of Daniel was so strong, he could be barely breathe. He felt an emptiness in his soul and he couldn’t help but wonder why it had to be his child, or any child for that matter. Children should be exempt from such pain and misery.
Daniel had almost three-quarters of the driveway shoveled when he stood up once more and looked down the street. He could see a man walking underneath the street light. He wore an old long coat and a brimmed hat. Daniel continued to shovel the rest of his driveway. In between the scrapes of the shovel against the concrete, he could hear the man’s footsteps crunching in the snow. He looked up and saw him coming closer to the house. His head was down, looking at the street as he walked along the side of the road, the wind blowing his long coat behind him.
Daniel had nearly completed the shoveling when the footsteps had become fairly loud. He looked up to see the man stop at the end of his driveway.
“Merry Christmas,” Daniel called out.
The man raised his head to reveal his face from underneath his hat. He was probably in his late thirties and he looked at Daniel with eyes so blue you would swear that the sky was just behind them. He smiled at Daniel and looked up at the living room window.
“I can smell those gingerbread cookies from here,” he said.
Daniel stared at him in disbelief. Could he really smell the cookies from all the way out here? Daniel thought to himself.
“Do you live around here?” asked Daniel.
“No, I had a call and came to answer it,” the man replied.
Daniel looked at the man who smiled at him. He had a presence about him that was hard to describe. He looked like that of a humble, poor man, but had an inner glow and confidence that seemed to be of royalty.
“Would you like me to help you make the snow angels?” the man asked.
Daniel dropped his shovel on the driveway, and though he found this man to be very odd indeed, he found himself trusting him. He knew somehow that he meant no harm to him.
“I would like that,” Daniel replied.
Daniel and the man walked into the snow-covered front yard and lay next to each other, at arms width apart. They each began to move their arms and legs, making snow angels just below the living room window. They stood up together and walked backwards a few steps. Daniel stared at the perfect snow angels they had just made and smiled. He looked toward the living room window and saw his wife and daughter beaming as they took the gingerbread cookies from the oven.
Gazing back down at the snow angels, he noticed that there were no footprints in the snow. Only the two angels had disrupted the snow covered ground. He turned and faced the man, who tipped his hat. Daniel looked out at the shoveled driveway. Lying next to the dropped shovel in the driveway, he saw himself!
“You will always be in Maisha’s mind and her heart. She will know the sacrifice you made by the Christmas snow angels,” the man said.
“She isn’t going to die?” Daniel asked.
The man looked at Daniel with those caring, blue eyes. “You have saved her, Daniel, with your Christmas wish and your love. Come, take one more look and we will go.”
Daniel looked back at the living room window and smiled as he watched his wife and daughter take the gingerbread cookies off the cookie sheet and slide them onto the serving dish. He moved his hand up to his lips and blew them one last kiss. He turned to the man with the brimmed hat and together they walked down the snow covered street.
Every Christmas thereafter, Maisha would wake up to two snow angels just underneath her living room window, and she would remember the night of her father’s last Christmas; the night in which she was miraculously cured.