Excerpt: 'Love Matters'

The child got up on her knees with tubes running in and out of her, and said, "Oh, yes, Santa!" She had lost all her hair, but she had the bluest eyes I've ever seen. I walked over and asked her if I could sit on her bed, then I pulled her over on my lap. We talked and sang Christmas carols, and she played with my sleigh bells. We visited and laughed for over an hour, until she fell asleep in my arms. I tried to quietly lay her down, but my bells rang, and her amazingly blue eyes popped open.

I said, "Oh, Ashley, I'm glad you woke up, I have something very important to ask you. What do you want for Christmas?"

She didn't have to think even a second. She said, "My sisters want Teletubbies!" I said, "I can do that, but what do you want?"

Again she didn't have to think, and said, "My brother wants a Nintendo!" And again I said, "I can do that! But what do you want?"

She thought for a couple minutes and then said quietly, "I'm going to die soon, I know that, and I'm going to go and live with Grandma and Grandpa and I'm not going to hurt anymore. What I want is for Mom to stop crying -- she is going to be here alone and needs to take care of my brother and sisters."

Speechless, I looked at this little angel. She could have asked for anything from Santa, and all she cared about was her family. I wrapped my arms around this beautiful little girl and planted a big kiss right on that cute little bald head. I told her, "Don't you worry, your mom is going to be just fine."

The mother had been doing some needlepoint, and I did something then that I had never done before and have never done since. I borrowed the mother's scissors, cut off one of my sleigh bells and gave it to Ashley. Then I wiped a tear from my eye, gave her mother a big parting hug, and asked her to keep me posted.

Christmas came and went, and I didn't hear anything. Then, two days after Christmas, I received the call that I really didn't want to get. Ashley had passed away that morning. I found out when and where the funeral was going to be. On the day, I dressed in my best suit and Santa tie and went to pay my respects. As I walked in, her mother saw me and came over. She told me that during Ashley's last week she had more energy and was happier than the entire six months since they found out she had cancer. Her one Christmas wish had come true -- a personal visit from Santa.

It was an open-casket funeral, and I took a last look at Ashley. She was wearing a beautiful white dress, and they had put a long blond wig on her. She looked like the angel she was, and then, as I looked closer, I noticed that in her hand was my sleigh bell. If you believe in angels, the most special angels are the Christmas angels, and I believe that Ashley is one of them. God bless you, Ashley, wherever you are, you've touched me in a way that no one else ever has.

In His Love,
Barry
Sidebar: Her one Christmas wish had come true -- a personal visit from Santa.

2. Al
"My Father's Eyes" Dear Delilah, Here's a story I'd like to share with you about a loving father -- really two loving fathers.

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