Anna was awake and looking around when Samu-el entered her room. The morning sunlight was streaming in. Again the window was open, allowing the curtains to gently sway in the breeze.
“Good morning, my child,” he told her in his deep lyrical voice. “It’s good to see you awake on this Friday morning. Would you like me to bring you anything?”
“How about a brush and a mirror,” she joked.
“So you are starting to feel better. Unfortunately, there is not a mirror in this house. Is there something else I can get you?” he asked kindly.
“How about some answers,” she told him.
“Yes. I will answer your questions. What do you want to know?” he asked her, standing beside her bed.
“I remember being on the train,” she told him. “I remember a woman waking me up in the middle of the night, telling me to run to the back of the train. She told me to hurry. Who was that woman?”
“Good, your memory is returning. That was Andri-el. You saw her yesterday. Do you remember that?”
“Yes, I do remember. Where is she now?” Anna had to know.
“Never far away,” he answered.
“Then would you ask her to come in here, please, because I really need to go to the bathroom. I’m not sure you’re the best one to help with that.”
“There is no reason for embarrassment due to human biological functions. Our Lord created human bodies with various needs and requirements, including those you speak of. But if you prefer, I will send Andri-el in.” He turned and left the room. Anna liked the way he said ‘Andri-el’. He had a special way of inflecting the second part of her name, almost as if it were two words instead of one.
Andri-el immediately entered the room through the same doorway. She was carrying instruments designed to relieve Anna’s needs with the least discomfort and disgrace as possible.
“He wasn’t kidding, was he? You weren’t far away,” Anna commented to Andri-el.
Andri-el didn’t answer with her voice. However, Anna could see in her eyes that this helper was more than willing to be of whatever service was required. The process didn’t take long, and Andri-el didn’t speak the entire time. She wore some type of leather gloves on her hands which at first seemed odd to Anna, but were soon forgotten.
As Andri-el was leaving, Anna told her, “Thank you, Andriel. Thanks for staying close to me. And thanks for rescuing me from the train wreck. You were the one who tried to get me to run to the back of the train, weren’t you?”
Andri-el nodded without speaking.
“Can you tell me more about what happened that night?”
Andri-el stopped before exiting the room. She hesitated, and started to come back to the bed. It looked like there was a great sympathy in her eyes. She started to speak, but Samu-el entered the room just then, and said, “I think we were talking earlier. I asked Andri-el to remain silent so you would not hear the ranting and raving of Lu-seth outside.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” Anna stated. “And who is Lew Seth?”
“Rules are rules, my child. Most rules are put into place for your protection, you know. ‘Stop at the stop signs’ helps avoid accidents. ‘Don’t talk with your mouth full’ helps avoid choking. ‘If you cut yourself it will hurt’ helps you learn to avoid getting cut. It’s just a simple rule that keeps you from seeing or hearing Lu-seth, but also limits your sight and hearing of Andri-el. If you can hear Andri-el, then you can also hear Lu-seth, which is never a good thing.”
“Is it OK if I don’t understand all of that? Maybe we can argue about it later when my head feels better. Right now I want to hear more about the accident.”
“What do you want to know?”
“What happened? Can you just simply tell me the facts?” Anna asked.
“Of course. The train bridge over the bayou was damaged. The train entered the bridge at full speed, unaware of the danger. The train ran into a portion of the bridge. It derailed from the tracks, crashed into the bayou, and caught on fire.”
“How did I get these injuries?”
“Andri-el told me that you were going toward the back of the train when the collision occurred. The train cars separated, and you were thrown off the train into the water. Andri-el brought you here unconscious. That was difficult for her to do, but she loves you very much. As always, love can overcome a mountain of difficulty. She told me your leg struck the train, and your arm struck the bridge. You are very fortunate to still be a traveler here on this earth. Otherwise we might be having this conversation at Home.”
“That’s also a little confusing, Samuel, but I’m starting to expect it from you. Maybe you’re just trying to trick my brain back into gear by speaking in riddles. My friends – what happened to my friends on the train? Where are they?”
“Your friend Matt is searching. He carries a heavy burden. Jackson went Home,” Samu-el told her kindly.
“Home? Why do you keep saying ‘home?’ We live in New Orleans. Did Jackson go back to New Orleans without me? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”
“No, my child, Jackson did not go to New Orleans. He no longer travels this earth. He is Home for eternity.” This time, as he said ‘Home’ Samu-el gestured toward the ceiling of the room.
Anna finally understood. She looked down, with tears starting to form in her eyes. “He’s dead, isn’t he? That’s what you’re telling me. Just come right out and say it. Stop walking circles around the truth. I’m a big girl now.”
With the patience gained through an eternity of teaching and healing, Samu-el softly whispered, “Anna, do you remember what Jesus told the Sadducees when they questioned him about the resurrection?”
“No,” she also answered quietly, as the tears continued to run down her cheeks.
“As recorded by Matthew in Chapter 22 and Verse 32, Jesus, the Author and Finisher of the Faith, reminded the Sadducees that Moses wrote in the book of Exodus that God said ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then Jesus went on to interpret this quotation by saying ‘God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’ Therefore, if Jesus said that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are living, then why would I tell you that Jackson is dead when he is with them?”
“I believe what you’re saying. I understand. But now we’re separated by a great gulf. Never will we be husband and wife.” Anna wept.
“The gulf is not as great as you imagine,” Samu-el continued. “For a Christian, to be absent from the body is to be Home. But you are correct, apparently God does not intend for Jackson and you to become husband and wife.”
“Do you really think it was God’s will that Jackson go to Heaven during the train wreck, leaving me behind?”
“My child, you know that it is God’s will that all of His children go Home to be with Him.”
“But was it really His will that Jackson go to Heaven now? Why now?”
“I cannot answer that. I pray that one day you will find the answer. As bad as it seems, look for the good in it. God is the master of turning the worst into the best. Jesus dieing on the cross was the worst that could happen to God’s son, yet through that death and glorious resurrection from the dead all mankind has the ability to come to God.”
“Thank you for your kindness, Samuel. Jackson and Matt were only on the train because I was scared to travel by myself. You said Matt was searching. What is he searching for?”
“He searches for many things and for many reasons. Mostly he searches for peace.”
“When will he find it?”
“I do not predict the future, my child. Are you getting hungry?”
In truth, the grief over Jackson, combined with the stress of her injuries, left her with very little strength. Her eyelids were starting to get heavy, so she suggested resting for a while, then maybe eating something later.
“Sleep well, my child,” Samu-el told her.
As he was leaving the room she stopped him. “Samu-el?”
“Yes, my child.”
“I have one more question before you go.”
“What is it?” he asked her patiently.
“Why me? Why did I survive when others died?”
“Because it was God’s will, my child.”
“But why was it His will?” Anna persisted.
“That is a question that you should ask God. But I would guess it is because you are the Chosen Princess. Now rest, my child, and heal.”
She closed her eyes, letting the mysterious answer fill her thoughts. Chosen Princess? Chosen princess? How can I be a chosen princess when I’ve never even met a prince?