Wednesday, August 10, 2011
When God was giving out duties to the angels, Azrael was not especially glad to receive the title of Archangel of Death.
Azrael always imagined himself as being somewhat of a nice, well-meaning angel, and then, in an instant, he had the eternal assignment of separating humans’ souls from their bodies when they have died. There was no arguing this either. When God himself tells you to do something, unless you followed Lucifer in his rebellion (and we all know how well that went), you just bow your head, and accept what he says as fact.
Azrael’s job was not pleasant, as could be imagined. He spent every waking moment stretched thin, sitting at the bedside of every human who was about to die, and would then separate their soul from their body, and he would then usher it to either the gates of heaven, or even less pleasant, in an already unpleasant job, the gates of hell. To accomplish this, he had to be in many places at once. This was very possibly for an angel, however it still was very uncomfortable for one to do. He didn’t fully understand how it worked, but he would be having multiple conversations with many different recently deceased in many different languages all around the world simultaneously, and he was aware of what was occurring in each conversation simultaneously as well.
One thing that Azrael realized over his long life of doing this job, is that humans are never happy to die. He had sat in many hospital rooms awaiting that irritating human device to make it’s infernal beep sound to signify that the human had passed, and heard the dying person’s loved ones say, “He’s been through so much pain. Death will be a relief at this point. I think he’ll welcome it,” and things like that. The response to that is always no. When he first touches that person to take their soul from their body, the first thing their soul shouts when they see him is, “No! I’m not ready to die!”
Azrael had realized that humans truly held on to that heap of flesh, meat and bones that their souls had, in essence, been trapped in for all those years. Even though Azrael agreed that a human life seemed fun, he also acknowledged just how wonderful a human’s afterlife could be.
He tired though of always having to be the bad guy. The white light that humans see when they die is him. He appears to them at first as a white light due to their mortal eyes not being able to handle his angelic appearance, but then as their eyes adjust, they see him. He has no true form as humans know a form to be, so he appears to each human as they want him to appear. Some see him as he sees himself, in the image of Abel, the first human to die, the first mortal he spoke to, and the most hurt when he met him. Abel hadn’t been furious at him, but furious at his brother, and shocked at how life had ended for him, for he and his family had never really known death as something that could occur, having been the only humans at the time. Azrael was amazed by the boy, and so crafted his own appearance that he saw of himself in his likeness. A boy, no more than 20, with long dark brown hair, and dark features, and the build of a farmer. He liked this appearance, however when others looked at him, they only saw what artists had depicted him as, a demon, a cloaked figure with a scythe, etc. They would scream at his presence and run from him. He tired of it.
Then she came into his life. Azrael didn’t have a true gender as mortals knew. Some angels, like himself, came into a liking of one mortal or another, and fashioned their self image and, in turn, their gender upon that individual, but it wasn’t to say that Azrael was in fact a man, or a woman. He was Azrael, the Archangel of Death. If an individual chose to see him as a woman, so he would be. However, after fashioning himself after Abel for all these years, Azrael had allowed himself to feel emotions of that of a man, to the extent that wouldn’t get him thrown down from heaven. With these emotions came the longing for female interaction, however, he never got the chance to interact with the other angels, not that they were in fact female, as he was not male, and he also only spoke to the humans on the worst of occasions. She was different.
Her name was Fatima. She had been dying of cancer for most of her life. She was a fighter and had kept Azrael at bay for many years, however he was always with her, knowing that the moment could come at any time. She, like many other humans that Azrael had watched over with terminal diseases, had said upon multiple occasions, “I want to live, but when death comes for me, I will accept it willingly.” Azrael smirked at the comment, knowing that she wouldn’t in the end.
He had grown to enjoy watching her over the years he was with her. As with the others whom he watched, whom he just wanted to pass, so that he could possibly have one less place to be at that moment, with her, he wanted to be with her, and didn’t want her to pass, so that he would have to see her scream at his presence, and then send her to the gates of heaven and never see her again. He chewed his nails in the waiting rooms with her as they waited for results from a test, and cheered every time the doctor gave her positive news, and he even “wept” (though angels don’t actually cry as we do) when she was given negative news.
Every moment was precious with her. She was as old as Able had been when he had died, and she was as beautiful as Eve when she was first created. She was a thing of beauty, even without her hair. In place of hair, Azrael enjoyed, the beautiful different scarves she wore, and imagined them as if they were her own hair, like the rainbows created by the sun.
The day of course came when the news was bad, and then the day came when Azrael was waiting for that infernal device to make it’s terrible beeping noise. He sat anxiously at her bed side, wishing he could comfort her the same way her family and friends tried to.
She was brave to the last moment, when her eyes closed gently and he finally touched her skin.
Azrael had never been nervous before this moment, but at this second he was terrified of her seeing him. The seconds felt like hours as her eyes adjusted and he waited her to see him as she saw him, and scream like everyone else did. He imagined tear would have been falling from his face if he were a mortal. But then he was surprised. Her eyes adjusted, and there she stood, but different. She wasn’t thin and sick, but more beautiful than she had been on Earth. Her hair was back on her head on shined like the sun as it seemed to drift in a wind that wasn’t present. She smiled and ran to him and embraced him.
“I have waited so long to see you!” she cried.
Azrael didn’t speak. He slowly put his arms around her, while in shock.
Eventually Azrael released his embrace of her, and as was his job, he ushered her to the gates of heaven, and as he prepared to let her go, she turned to him. They hadn’t spoken since she had first seen him, but she looked at him now with her beautiful eyes, and her flowing blond hair, like a river of gold, and spoke with tears in her eyes, “Come with me. Stay with me.” He looked at her in shock again, and saw what she saw. He felt that she had felt him over the years and had known he was there while she was dying. “You were my confidence. I knew everything would be all right, because you would be here with me. Now please stay with me! This is my heaven, and I need you here with me.”
Azrael looked to St. Peter, who looked just as shocked as him. He shrugged slightly, and opened the gates for them both and Azrael entered through the gates for the first time in many millennia with his arm hooked with hers.
Now, he thought, for all time, although he would be divided all around the world with many different people in many different countries, waiting for death to come to them so he could do his depressing duty of ushering them to heaven, he was glad for once in his long existence to know that part of himself would always be happy with Fatima in her own personal heaven.