“Daddy, why doesn’t this water fountain freeze like the ponds?” a little girl pulled on his black pea coat seeking his attention.
He put his phone back into his warm side pocket and stared at the lingering frozen snow reflecting the sun into his eyes.
“Oh, there must have been some sort of warming system installed into it that keeps it from freezing.” There was apathy in his voice.
A little boy, about his daughter’s age, was sitting on the stone edge of the fountain. He had been listening intently, but the father was oblivious of his presence. From behind the scarf wrapped around the little boy’s mouth, he said, “There’s nothing in that pond.”
The father turned to the boy and asked, “Really, then why doesn’t it freeze?”
“That’s easy,” he replied, “It’s a magic fountain.”
“Oh, my mistake, I forgot about all the magic fountains in this city.” He rolled his eyes to his daughter, “Let’s go, Carolina.”
“It is magic. My great-grandma told me so. She was here before all these buildings, and she said this fountain was here before them and that there’s an angel that makes it magic.”
A ringing from Preston’s pocket turned the boy’s words into distant rambling as he took his daughter’s hand. They walked toward the street and signaled for a taxi.
The inside of the taxi was cluttered with seasonal decorations: garland bordered the dividing glass as little Santa Clauses dangled from the top, held on by layered clear tape. Bells dangled from the rearview mirror, annoying the father as he conversed on his phone. But to Carolina, they were something beautiful. They reminded her of her mother, who she could only remember vaguely since she had died when Carolina was only three. It was breast cancer that had prematurely stolen away her young life. But Carolina could remember her mother’s face clearly in one particular memory of her standing by a Christmas tree. She remembered her mother’s bright eyes and open smile as the Christmas lights glowed behind her. That picture was engraved upon her heart, although time was slowly washing it away into a feeling rather than a visual image. But there was something about Christmas that brought back memories.
Preston went from one call to the next, a stoic voice unchanging in tone: “Emma, I have to go in for a surgery tonight. I know I said you had the night off, but I need you to watch Carolina. Call me back when you get this, or just come over.”
Carolina watched intently as the big city displayed its seasonal decorations of triumphant red and green, and people in Santa costumes stood on street corners collecting money for various charities. The drive soon turned from the busy city streets into an elegant suburban world, behind large gates and surrounding walls.
“I thought you didn’t have to work tonight, Daddy?”
“Emma should be there.”
Carolina just stared out the window in silence.
“You still like Emma, don’t you?” he asked.
She replied, “Yeah, I like her. Why do you have to go?”
“Remember, your Daddy’s a doctor. I have to fix people, or they will die.”
“We were supposed to get our Christmas tree tonight. Why can’t other doctors fix them?”
“Emma can take you to get a tree.” This didn’t please her. “Have you thought about what you want for Christmas this year?”
“No,” she said softly.
When the two walked from the cab to their home, Emma met them at the door. Preston grabbed his medical bag and proceeded to the hospital.
“Dr. Patterson, Dr. Crawford would like to speak to you,” a nurse informed Preston as he was cleaning up from a successful appendectomy.
Dr. Crawford, the hospital director, was a balding man with a long nose. He seldom smiled—the ideal professional. He had traded his lab coat in for a prestigious position, which he had sacrificially dedicated his entire life to earn.
When Preston entered Dr. Crawford’s office, the director sat behind a large desk of dark mahogany wood, without a smile. He cleared his throat two or three times before he spoke: “Preston, you’re one of the best surgeons in the state. During your ten years here, you’ve never lost a patient, nor have any of your patients ever had any complications that you couldn’t quickly rectify. You have completed more surgeries than any doctor with your same experience.”
Preston interrupted quickly, “Thank you.”
“I say all this with adulation, but I’m very concerned about you.”
“Concerned? What is it that—”
Dr. Crawford interrupted him, “Please, Preston. Can I speak to you honestly?”
“Yes, of course.”
“After Katherine…” He looked down. “You took a few months off. When you came back, you just jumped back into your work. You volunteer for every case that comes up, while still holding strongly to your old patients.”
“Yes, I’m very dedicated to my practice.”
“Maybe too dedicated, though.”
“I didn’t know that was possible in our field.”
“Preston, I’m not speaking for the hospital right now. I’m speaking for you. Katherine passed away five years ago, and you haven’t taken a break since. You’re living too fast. You’re going to miss your life.”
Preston began to understand his point and gathered his thoughts for a moment: “I don’t really have much to miss anymore. It’s just me and Carolina now.”
“Who’s there for Carolina? You can’t possibly be raising her on your own with your hectic schedule.”
Rubbing his forehead, Preston responded, “I have a nanny who helps out at times—a really good nanny.”
“But it’s you who is her father. You have saved so many people, but don’t lose your own daughter in the process.” He sat back as his large leather chair making a stretching sound, and all the words settled for a moment.
“I don’t know anymore… I’ve saved so many people. Why couldn’t I have saved Katherine?” His eyes were wide and empty.
“Doctors and fathers have many responsibilities and jobs, but it’s not our job to ask why.”
Preston didn’t move except for the contorting muscles in his jaw.
Dr. Crawford added, “My door’s always open for you, Dr. Patterson. Now, go home and get some rest. Oh, and congratulations on another successful surgery.”
“Thank you, Dr. Crawford.”
When Preston arrived home, he found a beautifully lit Christmas tree, giving off a euphoric tint to the surrounding room. Under the tree, Carolina was curled up in a throw blanket on a pillow. He could still smell the remnants of a cozy fire, and Emma lay asleep on the couch with an open novel on the floor.
“Let’s go to bed, Carolina. Daddy’s home.” He picked her up to tuck her in bed. She coughed a few times before she rolled over and faded into a dream. When he came back into the living room, Emma was walking out the front door with heavy eyes.
“Emma,” he caught her attention. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” she said in a softly worn voice that came from her slender body.
Preston stood in the living room examining the elaborate tree and wondered if Carolina had put up the ornament hidden in the bottom of a worn cardboard box of saved decorations. He searched the tree, seeing a plethora of school made ornaments: small bells, cut-out snowflakes, and even one with Carolina’s Kindergarten picture, the year sketched underneath it.
And then he found it—the decoration Katherine gave him when she was sick. It was half-hidden behind a verdant branch, a silver heart that had an engraving that read: Together or apart, you’ll always have my heart.
He remembered his last Christmas with Katherine. How she was so weak, so feeble, but she still found strength to do all the little Christmas traditions for him and Carolina. Christmas was something very special to her, and to him too, back then.
He put his fist over his mouth and continued to stare at those unique words reflecting the twinkling lights. His body began to shake, and tears rolled down his aged cheeks. And they continued for a moment longer, until he was so worn out that he made his way to his room and fell onto the bed.
Another busy seasonal week flew by like frosty wind. Toy stores were filled with anxious eyed children as impatient parents waited in congested lines. Business men wore ties with Santa Clauses and reindeer on them as others wore red and green, fuzzy Christmas sweaters. Parents gathered for school choir concerts, and families, for church plays. Volunteers went out into the cold to help homeless shelters. And some simply just drove around looking at neighborhood light displays, while listening to radio stations play all the holiday favorites.
But there were no lights up on the Patterson home. Just that Christmas tree that Emma and Carolina put up. The two would have probably put up more decorations, but all the others were in boxes that were too high up in the attic to reach.
After Preston’s talk with Dr. Crawford, he thought little about cutting back in his work schedule. The holidays brought in a lot of patients, and instead of referring anyone to another doctor, Preston was determined to handle this busy challenge with his perfect medical record. He spent hours prepping for surgery for his patients. His newest challenge was a little girl, only a year older than Carolina, who had a severe stomach infection. In the little girl’s state, the permeation of the infection was life threatening, and there was no way Preston was going to let parents lose their daughter two days before Christmas.
With his precise eye-hand coordination, abundance of knowledge, and consistent experience, the surgery was another success. After he informed the worried parents, they cried with joy and thanked him earnestly.
“Excuse me, Dr. Patterson, you have an urgent message,” a nurse said.
“I’ll be there in a moment. I’m going to walk Mr. and Mrs. Eastin to see their daughter,” he responded while walking away.
The nurse continued, “Dr. Patterson, it’s concerning your daughter.”
“Please see to it that the Eastin’s are taken to their daughter,” he said as he hurried back to the offices.
Coming up to a tall counter, he asked, “Nurse Walker, there’s a message for me?”
“I have three messages here from a… Emma Bennett. Let’s see, ‘Carolina is ill, please call me back ASAP.’”
Preston rushed to his office and bypassed the missed calls on his cell phone, calling Emma immediately: “Emma, what’s wrong with Carolina?”
“Oh, Preston, she was running a fever last night, but this evening, it went up to 104. She couldn’t even move,” her voice was broken with worry.
“I’m coming home right now. Let her know that I’m on my way.”
“No, she’s already at the hospital, in the pediatric building. They wanted to put her on an IV. They’re trying to lower the fever.”
“I’ll be right over.” He ended the call and held the phone in his hand, staring at it in grief. He whispered, “Oh God, I save others but not my own. What’s wrong with me?”
As Preston entered the hospital room, Emma arose. He knelt beside his daughter and said gently, “Carolina, Daddy’s here now.”
“I don’t feel good.” Her voice was faint.
“I know you don’t. But the doctors will fix everything to make you well again.”
“You’re a doctor, Daddy. Why can’t you make me well?”
A blanket of guilt fell over him, suffocating him with those innocent words. He looked to Emma, “What pediatrician does she have?”
Emma hesitated, “I think his name is Dr. Ryder.”
“Ryder’s a good man,” he nodded his head. “I’ll be right back.”
Minutes passed by as Emma sat next to Carolina, softly rubbing her hand with her thumb until Preston came back with answers: “Emma.” She stood up. “We’re pretty sure she’s going to be fine. She has a severe flu, along with a minor infection that the antibiotics will take care of. The rest will just require a lot of rest.”
Preston sent Emma home to sleep, while he stayed overnight by the side of his daughter. With medication, Carolina slept most of the night, and Preston sat wondering how in the world did he ever expect to do all this without his wife as he occasionally dozed in and out of consciousness. The next morning, Carolina’s temperature had lowered, so she was able to return home.
It was now Christmas Eve, and the warm drive home felt more comfortable than the chilly hospital.
“Do you want the heater on more?” he played with the knobs near the radio.
“It’s fine, Daddy.”
Colorful lights and bright decorations flickered on as they drove by homes and businesses.
“It would be nice to turn on some Christmas music,” she suggested.
He pressed through different stations until he came to one with soft, classic Christmas melodies. Just then, white powder began to lightly fall.
“It’s snowing! Look, it’s snowing again!” she lit up in excitement.
“That’s peculiar; the weather forecast said there wouldn’t be snow again until next week. That’s one good thing about being a weatherman, you can be completely wrong, and people will still listen to you. A doctor makes one mistake, and his career is over for life.”
“Then you could stay home more.”
“Yeah, but we wouldn’t have our nice house or even this car.”
“Daddy, those things aren’t really important to me.”
He drove on through the snow with music and lights.
“Emma is going to meet us at home, so I can get your Christmas present. Did you decide on what you want yet?”
She nodded her head.
“Okay then, what is it? Remember, like I said, anything you want?”
She pulled a folded paper, worn and torn from a store catalogue, from her coat pocket. He unfolded the paper with the fingers of his right hand as his left steered the car. “What a beautiful, little jewelry box.”
Carolina added, “It plays music when you open it too. I want to keep Mom’s jewelry in it.”
Katherine passed down all her jewelry to her daughter, and although Carolina had some of it now, Katherine had planned out for her father to disperse it during special moments and stages of her life: like her first prom, her 16th and 18th birthdays, and her wedding. She even had a special piece of jewelry for him to give to her if there was ever a time or a moment of hardship.
Carolina had searched for the perfect box to hold all the beautiful pieces her mother left her. This box in the photo had an angel’s face engraved on it that she adored, making it perfect for the jewelry.
As they pulled into their driveway, Preston asked, “Now how old is this catalog that you found this jewelry box in?”
“I don’t know, but it’s the one I really want.”
He looked at her pale face and helped her to the house as soft snowflakes fell down upon them. Emma was already there and had prepared Carolina’s bed for her along with some warm soup. As soon as she was in bed, he gave Emma the doctor’s orders and took off in search of the jewelry box.
Preston carefully swerved through slow snowy traffic with the catalog picture folded up in his shirt pocket. When he arrived at the store, he showed the picture to the first attendant he saw. She earnestly helped him by looking all throughout the store and then on the computer. She learned that the catalog was over three years old, so chances were slim that the jewelry box would still be available, but her computer showed that the downtown store still had one left in stock. He would have to hurry because the downtown store was closing in 20 minutes. He thanked her and charged out the door.
He arrived to the store finding an open parking place near the front window on the street. This is truly a miracle, he thought to himself as he began to step through the fresh powder snow. Bright window lights welcomed him with displaying Christmas trees, snowy village scenes, and a miniature North Pole locomotive circling the holiday display.
Just as he reached out for the door, something in his peripheral vision caught his attention. He glimpsed a figure crossing the street. It stood in the center divider before attempting to cross to the other side, falling into the snowy asphalt.
He better get up. There’s no way a car can see him in these conditions, he worried. There was no movement. Preston looked back to the store again and remembered the time. Then in the distance, he saw a truck coming.
“Get up,” he said under his breath. He looked at the truck getting closer and then back to the inviting entry doors.
The next thing he knew, his feet were stomping through the white powder. The truck slowed down as its window opened, and a man stared angrily at Preston, “Get out of the way, you stupid idiot!”
He quickly picked up the wet figure and helped the person to the side of the street.
Preston unwrapped his scarf from his neck, catching his breath and said, “Are you okay?”
The figure was in a dark coat with a hood on, now clearly in the shape of a woman.
She took her time standing up.
“Hello, are you okay?” he said a little louder, starting to get frustrated with the unusual situation.
She removed her hood and turned to him, and he saw her clearly for the first time with help from the store’s Christmas lights. She had wavy, almond, shoulder-length hair, and her eyes were a bold brown. Her face was well shaped although she was covered with filth from the street, but her teeth were perfectly white, causing him to wonder about her story.
She answered with an unrecognizable accent, “I’m fine, sir. Thank you for asking though.”
“What were you doing in the middle of the street?”
She smiled at him, “It’s a special and most beautiful night, isn’t it?”
Preston said under his breath, “I don’t have time for this.” But the next second, the store lights clicked off into sudden darkness. He ran over to the door and started knocking against it with a closed fist, “No, come on! Come on, now!” but as far as he could see, it was already empty inside.
He muttered to himself, “Great! That’s just great! Now what am I supposed to do?”
The woman’s voice answered the question, “It’s Christmas Eve. There are countless things to do.”
He looked at her, annoyed with her strange answer. “No, you don’t understand. I need to buy my daughter something from that store. Now I won’t be able to get her what she wants for Christmas.”
She responded, “I think it will all work out in the end,” as he walked right past her and got in his car.
After a few struggling engine sounds, he shuffled around in the seat of his black, luxury vehicle and then got out, slamming the door. “I don’t suppose you have a cell phone on you, do you? I didn’t charge mine last night.”
“I’m sorry. People like me don’t have a need for phones.”
Preston looked at her worn dress hanging down from under her coat and figured that he understood. He leaned against his car as a little snow slid off it, and he folded his cold hands deep within his pockets.
“I have a warm place I can take you if would like,” she suggested.
He looked around and saw nothing but Christmas lights and closed stores—not a taxi in sight. “You don’t suppose there’s a phone there?”
“I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for,” she began to walk down the sidewalk.
He caught up with her with a quick jog, “Now, I don’t think I caught your name?”
“My name? I don’t think you’ll be able to pronounce it even if I told you.”
“So you’re not from around here? And I’m Preston, by the way.”
“Hello, Preston, and I’m not from around here.”
“So what were you doing in the middle of the street? Did you faint? You almost got ran over by that truck.”
“No I didn’t.”
As they walked, he could see his breath in front of him. “Yes, you did! I saw it coming straight for you.”
“No I didn’t, because you saved me,” she smiled.
Preston gave up on the argument, focusing on the cold. Arguing with a deranged homeless woman downtown on Christmas Eve while his sick daughter was waiting for him at home was not what he wanted to be doing at the present moment.
“Preston, I bet you’re the type of person who likes to save people, aren’t you?” she looked at him confidently.
She had caught his attention, despite the situation, so she continued, “You’re probably even the type of person who blames himself if there’s ever a person you can’t save. A true perfectionist. A type A personality.”
“So where are we going?” He tried to hide the impatience in his voice.
“It’s a very special place, and don’t worry, they’ll have a phone there.”
Preston had some difficulty understanding her through her accent, and he was still trying to figure out what kind of accent it was. It almost seemed like a mix of many different languages.
“It’s just another block away now,” she informed him.
As the two walked through the falling snow, Preston noticed wreaths, bells, and bows on store doors and manger displays in dark windows. He looked up to the sky and could see the bright snowflakes fall with the lamppost light behind them. It reminded him of when he and Katherine used to go ice-skating in the city’s ponds when they first started dating so many years ago. He painfully reminisced about the time they spent together, just simply observing the world around them—perfectly content.
Finally the woman stopped in front of a building filled with happy noise. Bright light beamed through the window.
“What’s this?” Preston asked.
“It’s the Simonson Children Center, a place for children without parents or children who have been taken away from their parents due to abuse or—”
He sharply interrupted, “I know what the Simonson Children Center is. I mean, why did you bring me here?”
“Because they’re always open, and there’s a phone here. Is there a problem?”
“My wife used to volunteer here before we had our daughter, some nine years ago.”
She added, “Then you know it’s one of the best places in the world to be, and I’ve been everywhere.”
Large sleigh bells jingled as he opened the door. The woman entered behind him.
Preston said, “This place hasn’t changed a bit.”
There were two large living room areas and a commercial kitchen on the left side. It was more of a miniature cafeteria than a kitchen. There were about 30 to 40 children in the center. Some were playing board games near the fireplace. Some were eating out of little stocking bags of candy. Some of the younger ones rolled toy cars on the carpeted floor or played with their new dolls in the corner. A small group of adults stood by the kitchen, and the woman went over to them.
Just then, a man approached Preston, “Can I help you, sir?” He was a tall, lean, black man with a deep voice wearing a collar neck shirt with the name of the center screen-printed on it, faded jeans, and a Santa hat.
“My car broke down, and my battery died on my cell phone, so I came in with hopes that I might use your phone for a moment. That woman over there guided me here.” He gestured to where the woman stood now with the others as she smiled joyfully entertained by their conversations.
“Which woman?” the man asked, looking at the group.
Just then, he heard, “Preston? Oh my gosh, Preston Patterson!” A blond woman hurried over, as the man left to console a child who had just dropped her candy on the ground. “Preston, it’s me, Susan Carter, Kathy’s old friend from college!”
Memories like pictures flashed through his mind as he remembered meeting Susan before when Katherine used to help out at the center. She had even been over to the house a few times. If he recalled correctly, she used to be an engineer but gave up her career to be a volunteer at the center.
Preston nodded a humble greeting.
“So what brings you in on Christmas Eve?”
He cleared his throat, “Well, besides meeting strange people on the street,” he motioned to the woman who was now sitting and laughing with a small child, “my car broke down a few blocks from here, while I was shopping for Carolina, and my phone died.”
Susan lightly laughed and directed him to where the phone was located.
“So how are things going in the good old Simonson Center?” he changed the topic from himself.
“Besides funding cuts, a lot of the kids have been sick lately. We have one little boy in the back room by himself who has had the flu this entire week.”
She could tell what he was thinking as he rubbed this chin.
“Would you like to take a look at him, Dr. Patterson?”
“Let’s take a look at the little guy.”
She took him to a small room in the back where a small child lay pale and motionless. Preston put his hand over his forehead. “He needs to go to the hospital.”
“We just had him there a few hours ago. He was sent back.”
Preston sighed, “That’s the inner city for you.”
The lean, black man stuck his head in the doorway, “Susan, there’s a phone call for you.”
“Thank you, Wallace. I’ll be right there.” She turned to Preston, “Please excuse me.”
As she was walking out, the peculiar woman walked in the room with Preston and the ill boy. She asked, “What’s wrong, Preston?”
“This child is dehydrated first of all, not to mention that he has a dangerously high fever. Someone’s going to have to get him to my hospital at once.”
“So you’re a doctor,” she said calmly.
“So it’s good that I brought you here.”
He paused and looked at her sternly, “Why did you bring me here, anyway?”
“Because it’s what you need.”
“Oh yeah, the phone.”
“No, that’s not what you need, Preston.”
“Really, then why don’t you tell me what I need?”
“Hold on, it’s starting to get warm in here; let me take off this coat.” She unbuttoned the long coat, and under it, he could clearly see her modest dress, one that would appear old in style, but it made her look more trustworthy. She then pulled out a handkerchief and wiped her face. He was almost embarrassed to admit it to himself, but she was oddly beautiful. “Let’s begin that question with knowing what you don’t need.”
“Okay, then, what don’t I need?”
“Preston, you don’t need to save everyone on your own. There are others who can save too.”
He sat down in a plastic chair. “If I don’t save everyone, who will?”
“There are others like you, but have you completely forgotten that God can save too?”
“If God could save, he would have saved my wife.” He gritted his teeth, “But he couldn’t, and even worse, I couldn’t save her either.”
“There’s so much hurt in you still. God didn’t save your wife because everyone has an appointed time to die. It was her time. No matter what you did to try to save her, it was her time to go home. Everyone on this earth is only here on loan. And you loved her more than anyone, which is why God gave her to you.”
His eyes filled with moisture, and his voice broke when he spoke, “What do you know about me and my wife? I don’t even know you! You don’t know the first thing about saving anyone. If you can even remember, it was I who saved you less than an hour ago.”
The woman slowly walked over to the ill child in bed, put her hand over his warm forehead, and said, “May God be glorified. Be healed, child.”
Preston shook his head with an angry chuckle, “Are you serious?”
The woman walked out of the room, and Susan came back a moment later, “Sorry, the phone is always ringing around here.”
Preston stood up, “So where did you find her anyways?”
“The woman I came in with, the one who was walking around with the kids.”
“You came in with a woman?” she seemed confused.
“Yeah, I even pointed her out to you. She was sitting with a kid in the play area.”
“I’m sorry, Preston, but we all watched you come in, and it was only you.” Susan saw something move out of the corner of her eye. It was the ill, little boy. “Steven? Are you okay, honey?”
“Yeah, did I miss Christmas?” he asked, his face glowing with health.
“How are you feeling?”
“Fine, I didn’t miss Christmas, did I? Is my gift still under the tree?” he asked with excitement.
“Of course, still wrapped and all.”
The child started to throw off his blankets, but Susan stopped him, “Hold on there, turbo! Let me feel your forehead.” She put her hand over it. “Fever’s gone.”
Preston put his hand on the boy’s forehead, “It is gone.”
“What did you do, Preston? Did you give him medicine or something?” she asked in awe.
“I didn’t do anything, Susan.”
The child asked impatiently, “Can I get my gift now?”
“Go ahead, Steven. Take it easy now,” but before her words were out of her mouth, the child was already in the other room. Susan turned, “Preston, that was a miracle—an answer to my prayer.”
“I have to go now. Thanks for letting me visit for a while.” His mind was trying to make sense of everything. He had to catch up with the woman.
He flung the door of the center wide open and looked right to see nothing. He turned to his left and saw a dark, blurry image in the snowfall. He ran through the piling snow, almost losing his balance a few times. The distant image turned a corner, and he caught up. As he turned, he realized where he was. It was an open cemented park area for sitting and resting, surrounded by large buildings of offices. It looked different with the freshly fallen snow and the sporadic twinkling of Christmas lights in office windows, but what really set it apart was the silence. He could hear the soft snow fall. And then he saw the woman, sitting on the same city fountain that his daughter had sat on only days before.
Preston enjoyed the unusual silence, and the woman looked impossibly beautiful as she sat so contently with no jacket in the falling snow. Her skin wasn’t red from the cold nor was she even shivering.
He broke the silence: “Hello.”
“Hello, Preston.” She had a calm half-smile.
“How did you do that back there? The boy is completely well.”
“Oh, Preston, you baffle me sometimes. You clearly saw what happened. And you know that it wasn’t me who did anything?”
He silently reasoned within himself.
“So, don’t you love the center? It’s one of my favorite places in all the world. I used to spend a lot more time there, but I’ve been busy other places.”
He grew curious: “Were you there when my wife was?”
“Oh, Katherine, of course. She was one of my favorites. So sweet. She had so much compassion for those little ones. And then she quit coming around so much, with Carolina being born. Oh my, she was so happy that day. Remember what she said?”
“What did she say?” he grew nervously still.
“Don’t be silly, Preston. You know as well as I do what she said. She looked at you and said, ‘Darling, look at her. Our love can make miracles.’”
“There’s no way you can know any of this.”
“You see, Katherine prayed for you all the time. Even when she was fading out of this life, she still prayed for God to remind you of the love that you shared together and of the miracle that it produced.”
Belief was slowly pushing within his heart. “I want to believe you so much. I really do. Can you just show me a sign, or let me see a miracle. Anything?”
“I’ll show you anything you want. What is it that you would like to see more than anything, Preston?”
He face contorted as his lower lip quivered, “I want to see my wife. I want to hold her in my arms once again and tell her that I love her with all my heart.” Tears fell with the light snow, and his body shook while standing.
“Then just look into the fountain here, and you’ll have what you have asked for?” She stood up and moved out of the way.
Preston walked over to the fountain and bent over it looking down. His eyes blurred, so he wiped them with his cold thumbs. The reflection in the water wasn’t his own. His jaw shook, and he finally understood as he stared looking at his daughter in the water. The image soon faded in ripples from the falling snow. Preston turned around to the woman, but she was gone.
Two little lights came blurring in the distance. As they came nearer, he could make out that it was a taxi. He hurried to the street to flag it down.
The taxi’s window lowered, and Preston recognized the driver by the cluttered Christmas decorations in the cab. The driver said, “Merry Christmas, sir! Where am I taking you?”
When Preston walked into his home, he saw Carolina sitting by the Christmas tree, and as the warm fire lit the room, her face looked like his wife for a moment. She jumped up and ran over to him.
She yelled, “Daddy, Daddy! We were waiting for you! Emma and I made Christmas cookies and we’re watching Christmas movies.”
“He knelt down and hugged her within his arms, and whispered, “I love you with all my heart.”
Emma, Carolina, and Preston spent the rest of that Christmas Eve watching seasonal films with milk and cookies as Carolina was free from any illness.
The next morning, Carolina woke her father with the excitement of Christmas morning. Preston dreaded having to tell her that he had failed at getting her a gift but knew she would understand with his car breaking down—the part of the story that he told her.
“Thank you so much, Daddy!” she yelled out as she saw a square shaped box under the tree.
Preston was puzzled, not sure where it had come from. Carolina opened it gently, and there was the jewelry box.
“It’s even more beautiful than the picture!”
He picked up the gift and stared at it with a smile, for the angel that was engraved upon it was the woman who had changed his life the night before—a Christmas angel.