Daimhin entered the pristine white room on time. He noticed a long table with three figures seated on the opposite side. The large floor to ceiling window was behind their backs and Daimhin could not discern their faces. He wanted to get this process over and done with as quickly as possible. He had an urgent need to return to Taylor in the hospital. He knew, hoped, her heart would not stop beating before he got there. He did not want to go looking for her in The Valley, it would be a daunting task.
Daimhin sat down in the single vacant white chair in the room, facing the desk.
He recognized Mr. Ahern’s voice. “Daimhin, a deliverance hearing is a hearing to determine whether a soul should be released. The purpose of this hearing is to determine if you have learned the precious meaning of life. Say yes, if you fully understand.”
Daimhin said unsure, “Yes.”
“You see, your life didn’t begin at birth and it won’t end at death. Before you came to earth, your spirit lived with the Heavenly Father who created you. You knew Him and He knew and loved you. It was a happy time during which you were taught God’s plan of happiness and the path to true joy. But just as most of us leave our home and parents when we grow up, God knew you needed to do the same. He knew you couldn’t progress unless you left for a while. So he allowed you to go to earth to experience the joy, as well as the pain, of a physical body.”
There was a moment of silence and Daimhin did not know if he was supposed to say yes or not.
Mr. Ahern lifted a glass from in front of him and took a sip of the clear fluid. He continued, “Most of the time, it’s hard to move forward when you don’t know where you’re headed or why. One thing that makes life so hard sometimes is that we leave God’s physical presence. Not only that, but we can’t remember our life before Earth, which means we have to operate by faith rather than sight. God didn’t say it would be easy, but He promised His spirit would be there when we needed Him. We are never alone in our journey. We never have to fight alone.”
Mr. Ahern cleared his throat while Daimhin glanced at the two other figures sitting silently on each side of him. We wondered who they were and if he had met them before.
Mr. Ahern continued his monologue, “God’s plan for you was beautiful and simple. He wanted you to have joy and to become more like Him. That doesn’t mean He expected you to be perfect. He knew you would not be. But He did expect that while you were on earth you would try to the best of your ability to be more like Him and that you would learn and grow from your mistakes. Each time you make a poor choice with painful consequences that decision leads to unhappiness. Likewise, choosing good eventually leads to happiness and helps you become more like the Heavenly Father. Daimhin, this brings us specifically to you and your circumstances.”
Daimhin had drifted off, his thoughts were with Taylor. He hoped her mum was there. She said she did not want to die alone. He wished he could be there instead of being here.
“Daimhin. Do you understand the question?”
He did not know what the question was. He assumed it had something to do with what Ahern was talking about. Daimhin shifted in his chair. “In my life, I made many wrong choices. God put me in an intolerable situation, which I thought I could not handle, but I now understand that God would not have placed me with a mean, abusive father if he did not believe in my strength and determination to rise above it. Unfortunately, I only realized this after the depression in my soul consumed everything joyful within me and I had taken my own life. I now realize that regardless of what you do or don’t have in this life, your deepest, most lasting happiness will come from knowing God’s plan and following it. True happiness comes from serving others and helping them. Sometimes bad things happen and it is hard not to ask why God allows us to suffer so much. I know now that God takes no pleasure in our suffering because ultimately our difficulties bring us closer to Him.”
Daimhin did not recognize the voice from the left of Mr. Ahern. “Coping with calamities can strengthen you and make you more compassionate. It can help you learn, grow and want to serve others. Dealing with adversity is one of the chief ways you are tested and tutored in your life on Earth. Our loving Heavenly Father has the ability to compensate us for any injustices we may be called upon to endure in the mortal life.”
Mr. Ahern started speaking again, “Sometimes we wonder if we can ever overcome our mistakes and feel the peace of being forgiven. We unequivocally can, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the process of repentance. We can confess our sins to God and ask His forgiveness and He promised that He’ll remember them no more. Daimhin, do you repent taking your own life?”
“I always have and I am grateful to have been given this second chance.”
“Daimhin, do you feel you can move forward feeling God’s love and the incredible peace and joy that comes from being fully forgiven.”
The figure from Mr. Ahern’s right-hand side spoke up loudly. “However, although we have witnessed that since you arrived here to become a guardian and to escort souls across The Valley, you have grown. We have seen your compassion, sympathy and empathy when dealing with these confused souls. My question, however, and the reason I am insisting you are immediately escorted to Hell, is the issue of the girl. Did her name appear on your list on the twenty-fourth of March nineteen-seventy-nine?”
Nervously Daimhin flexed his fingers in his lap. “Yes, it did.”
The deep voice asked harshly, “Why did you not touch her then?”
“I could not.”
“Why not. It was her time, her destiny. The Heavenly Father requested her to be returned.”
“She was so young. I saw the way her mother rushed to her side. I felt the love in the room and in that instance it reminded me of my very own mother. I wanted them to get to know each other better.”
The man was staring directly at Daimhin and it was disconcerting for Daimhin because he could not make out his features. It was like looking at an angry looming black shadow. “Did her name appear on your list again on the thirtieth of June nineteen-eighty-one?”
“Why did you not take her then?”
“She told me she was scared. I was shocked that she was able to see me and, to be honest, I am not entirely sure why I did not bring her with me that day.”
The man interrupted him. “And on the seventeenth of August nineteen-eighty-four?”
“It was everything about her. There is not one specific thing I can point to and say, this is the reason. I wanted desperately for her to have a full life.”
“Was this a choice you were allowed to make, Daimhin?”
“No, it was not.”
“What happened on the first of September nineteen-eighty-five?”
Daimhin could not help smiling. “She and I made a deal that I would fetch her the next time. Her name did not appear on my list until last Tuesday.”
“You realize that your failure to escort her has serious implications.”
“I do understand that, but Taylor is dying as we speak. This time the system made sure I would have to take her. The other times it was little minor accidents, things which could be stitched up easily or a bone that could be placed in a cast. Now she is seriously ill and suffering.”
“We understand that you have shown yourself in everyday life to this girl.”
Mr. Ahern muttered, “Serious consequences.”
“You have developed affection for this girl?” The man with the deep, gruff voice asked again.
“I love her with everything that I am. I will offer my soul in eternal service to being a guardian and I am willing to be condemned to Hell, so that I can be the one to escort her across and to make her pain go away.”
“You understand that should we decide here today not to grant you deliverance, you will not be allowed to have any contact with her. As you cannot be trusted, we will send another guardian while you will be placed under guard by the Celestial Police Force.”
Daimhin felt all hope drain away from him as the feeling of loss sunk into him. His head dropped forward as his shoulders slumped.
The three figures turned to each other and Daimhin watched the three dark silhouettes huddle together as they decided between them the fate of his soul.
He missed Taylor. His thoughts kept going back to her. He remembered how insecure she sometimes seemed, although everything about her was perfect. The way she smiled when she was engrossed in a book, the way she bit her lip. Her attempts to be brave in a world where everything around her was crumbling. She stole his heart with one glimpse. It took only a second. He fell in love with her from the first moment he saw her.
A sudden loud voice jerked Daimhin back to the meeting room. He recognized the voice. It was the voice he heard the day he arrived here almost three hundred years ago. “An explanation is needed,” the voice thundered through the room.
Daimhin looked at the three people across from him to make sure they were also hearing the voice and it was not only him.
They had their heads tilted up to the ceiling.
Composed the voice said, “Daimhin, my child, as you have rightly pointed out the earlier incidents in Taylor’s life were not serious and if you had decided to touch her or not to touch her, it would have ultimately made no difference to the final outcome in her destiny. When her name appeared on your list the first time, it was a test. A test to see if you could grasp the importance of life and how each person’s life is intricately linked with another person’s life. You saw this in Taylor and I was pleased.”
Anger pushed up into Daimhin’s chest. He clenched his fists in his lap.
The voice continued loudly, “You may now escort Taylor through The Valley. However, once you reach the waiting area, you must proceed alone. The fate of your soul has already been decided here, thus you need not be processed again.”
“Without Taylor?” He felt the loneliness that was still to come settle in his chest.
The voice did not answer.
The three people behind the desk rose as one. Mr. Ahern said to Daimhin, “You are free to go. I know you have a problem following orders where this girl is concerned, but I implore you to proceed through the waiting area to the departure area without this girl.”
Daimhin stood up from the chair. It still had not registered in his mind. After three hundred years, he was allowed to move on. Profound desperation filled him as he considered he would have to leave Taylor in the waiting area, but then he considered whether it would do anybody any harm if he lingered there with her for a second or maybe even a few years.
Overjoyed Daimhin walked into the Intensive Care Unit with his ring on his finger. He had a plan figured out of how he and Taylor could remain together for a little while longer. He was not going to leave her in the waiting area. He was going to take her with him to departures.
Undetected he walked past three occupied hospital beds, before he reached her bed, at the far end of the room. She looked incredible pale and vulnerable. There was a thick white ribbed tube in her mouth, assisting her with her breathing and she was connected to a multitude of musical machines.
Her mother was standing next to her bed. She was swaying and it was as if she had not slept for days. He saw the young nurse touch Michelle lightly on her shoulder and say softly, “Mrs. Fergusson, I am sorry, but you’ll need to move away. Why don’t you go and have a coffee?”
Michelle shook her head as the word, “No,” whispered over her lips. “I want to be here.”
Daimhin looked down at Taylor lovingly as he touched her.
Taylor opened her eyes. Everything around her was hazy, but she thought she recognized Daimhin in the blurriness. She heard his voice. “Taylor? Taylor, can you hear me?”
His face cleared, and she lifted herself off the bed. “How long have I been here?”
Taylor stood up. She expected to sway a little, but she felt remarkably steady. Then it hit her. The headache she has had for the last couple of years was gone. “Is this a miracle?” She asked hopefully as she touched her palm to the back of her head.
He could not help smiling down at her and her eyes lit up.
Behind them, her mother started bawling loud, heart-rending sobs. Taylor turned around and then realization coursed through her body. She stepped back in shock, bumping into Daimhin. Instinctively his hands came up and wrapped around her shoulders to steady her. Her back was turned to him.
Slowly she turned her head back to Daimhin. He kept his hands on her arms. Slowly she smiled. “I thought I recognized you. What happens now?”
“I’ll escort you across.”
“She’ll be okay. Your uncles and aunts are on their way.”
“Thank you for giving me a chance to experience life, to be with my mum. I suppose even if you have a guardian angel on your side, death will always make sure it gets what it wants.”
“Ready?” His voice caught in his throat.
“Wait a minute. What about you and me?”
He leaned his head down to hers and cupped her face in his palms. He murmured softly, “Taylor, I will always, always love you.”
She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled him down. Softly she pushed her lips against his. She felt a single tear run down her cheek. “I love you, Daimhin. So very much.” Slowly she pulled away from him and she smiled. “I’m ready and if I remember correctly we have a deal.”
He draped his arm across her shoulders affectionately as they started walking away from the hospital bed. Pulling her into his warmth and strength, he said, “We’ll be okay.”