When Dylan was a newborn, Darren and I noticed that, while lying on our bed for a diaper change or snuggle time, he would often gaze intently at our framed reproduction of this painting ("The First Kiss", by William Bouguereau). We thought at first that it was nothing more than coincidence, his unfocused, exploring eyes just happening to fall time and again on what was (and still is) one of our favorite works of art. But as time passed, we agreed that maybe it wasn't so much a matter of chance, after all, as he began to also reach out to, and coo at, the still images behind the glass. "How sweet," we mused. "Maybe, being so fresh from heaven, he remembers the angels!"
Dylan was seven months old when we moved into our current home, and, with double the square footage in which we were accustomed to living, we were excited to finally be able to set up his very own bedroom. And here, too, we noticed an interesting phenomenon: many times, peeking in on him playing contentedly on the floor of his room, we would find him focusing intently on something, or someone, which we could not see, and he would be "talking" animatedly while gesturing with his hands. We began to wonder if there really wasn't an angel watching over our little boy, a possibility we fully accepted in theory but which, in reality, sent shivers down my spine.
By the time he was two, we had grown quite used to, and indeed quite fond of, the idea of Dylan having a personal relationship with what we had come to regard as his guardian angel. But still, neither of us was at all prepared for the night when, while getting Dylan dressed for bed, he began telling us of a man that came into his room at night to talk to him while he was falling asleep. To hear a two year old little boy describe in detail a man with "orange" hair and a white robe who flew through his window at night was just a little beyond belief, and yet, he spoke with such authority that we really had to wonder. "Does he have name?" we asked him, hardly daring to breathe.
Michael. Not a name familiar to him, and yet spoken immediately, without hesitation. I think we were just about convinced. If not in that moment, then certainly in the months and years to follow. Michael, now, has come to be an accepted part of this family, one who is blamed often and quickly for any strange, otherwise unexplained occurrences, such as the time when Darren and I were preparing dinner together in the kitchen and heard from the living room a man's voice very distinctly say "Hello". Or the time when, after finally getting all of the kids to sleep, Darren and I finally got into bed and, while talking quietly before sleep, heard, as clear as a bell, the tinkling notes of a music box playing right there in our room. We immediately flipped on the light and searched high and low for the source of the music we had never before heard in our house. We couldn't find anything, nothing at all, to explain it, so we credited Michael with another "appearance" and tried (unsuccessfully, on my part) to go back to sleep.
I think, though, that one of the most disconcerting situations is one that happens somewhat frequently but without any sense of predictability, and that is finding the lamps in our living room shining without having been turned on by any of us. The first few times it happened, I tried to justify the incidents with logic: faulty wiring, perhaps (though these lamps are plugged into two separate wall outlets, so I had a hard time really accepting that theory). They function by touch activation, in which, when the actual lamp switch is "on", you can tap the base once for dim, twice for medium, and three times for bright light. And I will never, ever forget the time that, while I was rocking Meghan to sleep in the darkened living room, both lamps simultaneously lit up. I was paralyzed for a moment, too scared to even call for Darren, but then hastily carried Meghan with me into Dylan's room where Darren was getting him ready for bed.
I have finally reached the point now, though, that when I find either one or both of the lamps mysteriously on, I can just calmly reach over and turn it off. "Looks like Michael is up to his mischief again," I'll say. The kids think it's funny. Darren doesn't seem to mind, and in fact takes comfort from the notion of our very own angel. It's taken me much longer to come around, but this morning even I had to laugh at the strange thing that happened while my kids and I were down on the floor of the living room playing with puzzles. Unexpectedly, the lamp in the corner blinked on. "Oops, guys, Michael's at it again!" They laughed, and one of us turned it back off. But two seconds later...there it goes again! Now that has never happened, and I was a little unsettled. Dylan got up to tap it back off but it would not turn off! I thought he was just being silly and I was, by now, more than a little spooked, so I got up to do it myself. I reached over--tap!--and... it came right back on! Enough was enough. Firmly, I flipped the switch and that was the end of it...or so I thought. I took the kids into the kitchen to fix us some drinks, walked back into the living room while they were sitting at the table, and--you are never going to believe this--the other lamp was on! I quickly switched that one off, too. I can only take so much, you know! And I think that I have exceeded my daily limit of supernatural silliness.
Please, Michael: no more games today!