Damn, you all are makin’ me cry! And every time I hear that song I cry too. Ever notice how Sarah McLaughlin has the voice of an angel as well?
Lou, I am so sorry about your friend.
My cousin had these two beautiful little girls. They were golden haired and blue eyed with the sweetest smiles and natures. You know the kind of girls who just seem like they’re little angels? I can still hear them giggling. I remember one Summer’s evening in particular. They were four and five years old and I was out walking with them and their Dad, who was this big, huge guy, like 6 feet 6 of solid muscle and he looked really tough on the outside, but he had this great big, soft, kind heart. We were all playing hide and seek through the gardens and down the paths and out through the fields of golden grain in the long light of the setting sun. The girls would hide and then they’d shriek with delight and giggle so hard when we found them. Their Dad “horse-played” with us all and it was just a ton of fun and joy, just one of those evenings you end up remembering for a long, long time. That night I was sure that they were the most adorable little girls in the world.
Anyway, fast forward, in the years that followed a lot of really bad things happened to that family. My cousin and his wife eventually divorced. One of those little girls, Deborah, was especially traumatised by a lot of it. They’d moved a long way away and I hadn’t seen Deborah for several years. She used to regularly phone or write to my favourite aunt who was her grandmother and my aunt would usually keep me up to date on what Deborah was doing.
In her late teenage years I knew she was “troubled”. I knew she’d been admitted to psychiatric hospitals a few times. But it seems Deborah’s “main problem” as she saw it, was that she was overweight. That’s how Deborah coped with all the pain - she ate. Food was her drug of choice. That’s how she comforted herself. By the time she was 18 years old she was something like 23 stone, but all that weight just represented pain. We didn’t know it at the time but a lot of other teenagers and some people in general really victimised Deborah because of her size. In the town she lived in some of them were really mean to her.
She started telling my aunt how desperate she was to lose the weight because “everyone hated fat people” and she was “ugly because she was fat”. Well of course her family and her real friends could see nothing but this beautiful, sweet, kind-hearted girl with a smile that could still light up the whole room. She’d always been an angel and she was still an angel. We tried to get her to see herself differently, especially my aunt - whose about as close to a real saint as any woman that ever walked this earth.
But Deborah was obsessed with how “fat and ugly” she was and all she seemed to be able to hear was the mean voices who tormented her. We’d always say, “Just ignore them Debs, just ignore them” but she never could. She just internalised all of that criticism and hate and somehow when it got into her veins it turned into poison.
When she was 22 she sent my aunt a letter saying how “no one would ever love her because she was fat” and talking about how much she hated herself. Some of us decided we were going to go down to the town where she was living and persuade her to come back and live with my aunt where she would be nurtured and know she was loved and cherished.
But before this could be arranged Deborah took a massive overdose. Killed herself. Left a suicide note apologising for “being fat”. Broke a whole lot of hearts, especially her fathers and grandmothers. Even now, years later, sometimes my aunt and I will say, “If only we could have made her see what we saw when we looked at her”, which was a really beautiful, precious, sweet girl. - who was an angel.
When I remember her these days I usually remember that little golden haired, blue eyed, five year old angel girl sitting and giggling on a fence on a Summer’s eve, kicking her heels against the bricks, ready to start running off again shrieking with delight to find the next place to hide behind a tree or amongst a mass of tall flowers. And I remember her big, strong, adoring, gentle giant of a Dad carrying her on his broad shoulders and how much she loved it and how much she laughed. That evening life seemed so perfect.
And I think how it says in the Bible, “We have entertained angels unawares”.