Here's what happened:
One year ago yesterday, one of my husband's karate students came home to find her mother dead on the couch. Her first call was 9-1-1. Her second call was the studio. Immediately, she was brought into the dojo where her karate family cared for her; a friend's family welcomed her to stay with them, money poured in to give her mother a proper burial, coffin and service, a fund was created for her to get her driver's ed classes and help her stay in school and at her job. Everyone came together to help this young woman who we'd known since she began taking classes through a community program for underprivileged youth when she was 7 or 8. She is now 16, a Black Belt, and a student teacher of karate as well as having another job. She has maintained her grades, her black belt classes, stayed working at the studio and gotten her driver's license. She wants to go to college. She wants her father to stay in recovery. She wants to help kids be happy, strong and capable. She is a true, rough-n-tumble angel on earth.
I had my copy of FAR FROM YOU in hand, inscribed with a touching message from the author herself, as I walked into a Black Belt Celebration night; as we are both Black Belts, I knew she would be there. She was -- chatting and smiling with her students, and with her boyfriend at her side. She was animate. Sparkling. You wouldn't know the things she had gone through in the past year. You wouldn't know that we were still conniving of ways to send her to college. You wouldn't know it at all, just looking at this incredible young woman with her hair in glitter and tight curly bun.
But I did.
I walked up to her as we began moving towards the demonstration team's portion of the program. I held out the book and explained that I had heard of this contest and that if every there was someone deserving of an angel, it was her. She looked at me a little strangely, but her smile never wavered. I said it had something written for her inside (I hadn't read it), but turned the page and pointed. She read, eyes shining, and closed the book. "Thank you," she said and gave me a big hug. I hugged her back. Hard. Then we went to the rest of the evening.
I haven't asked her about it. Not yet. But there was a moment where I think she *got* that the world knew she was there, that there were people she didn't even know who wanted nothing more than for her to be happy, safe, and free to succeed. That she was someone deserving, and deserving of a good book.
And that, maybe sometimes, angels aren't for the dying, but for the living.
Book Angel, out.