The Guardian

"Do you think you are ready for your assignment?"

Sadie looked at the impressive figure before her and blinked, almost expecting him to fade away. He claimed he was her teacher and his name was Thaddeus. He was here to help her with her orientation as a Guardian. She was still quite unsure this was anything other than a very vivid dream. The radiant glow surrounding Thaddeus and especially the beautiful wings that graced his back made it easy to believe she was not currently fully in touch with reality. Still, she thought, it might be best to play along.

"Should I have wings?" she asked, cocking her head to one side and giving her quite-possibly-imaginary tutor her most curious look.

"Haven't you seen It's a Wonderful Life?" he asked with an actual twinkle in his eye.

Sadie shook her head slowly. Watching the Christmas classic was one of the many things that had been on her rather lengthy list of "Things To Get Done Absolutely Positively As Soon As Possible" at the time of her unfortunate demise.

"I'm beginning to wonder about you new recruits," Thaddeus said, shaking his head but with a jovial smile that indicated he might only be joking. "The wings come later. How is the new head gear working out?"

Sadie tipped her head to the left and right, feeling the odd shifting of weight. "A little weird, but I'll get used to it. I like yours!"

"Thank you," Thaddeus said, bowing his head slightly to give Sadie a better view of the golden halo that encircled his head. It shimmered and seemed to wobble slightly like a floating crown of sunlight that somehow was moved by the lightest breeze.

"I'm still not certain I understand what is expected of me. I am happy to be of service anyway I can, but what exactly is a Guardian expected to do."

"Being a Guardian can be many things. But for the Guardian, it is a reward." Thaddeus smiled, seeming to drift away in thought for a moment, perhaps remembering a time when he had served as a Guardian. "You led an admirable life, Sadie. As a paramedic, you dedicated your life to helping others. Indeed, even your death was due to a sacrifice you made to save someone else. It is hard to explain exactly how, and those who may not be as selfless as you would probably never understand, but being a Guardian is a blessing and I am sure you will come to see it as the greatest gift you have ever been given."

"But who will I guard? And what exactly am I guarding them from?" Sadie asked, more confused than ever.

"Some need a Guardian for protection, of course. But others need a Guardian to guide them through the rough spots or perhaps even the ordinary day to day troubles they face. Probably most, though, need a Guardian so they know they are not alone. They need to know that they are loved. No matter what. They need a friend. A best friend. A Guardian is there for whatever is needed. No questions asked."

Thaddeus' words oddly seemed to comfort Sadie and it seemed to feel right that she had been chosen for this task. She had always found her greatest joy in life through helping others so it made sense she would find the same in the afterlife. She was beginning to look forward to her assignment as a new adventure. And what could be more exciting than a great adventure with a new best friend?

"How will I know who I am supposed to guard?" Sadie asked, warming to the idea of being someone's Guardian.

"That's kind of hard to explain. I can only say that when you meet the person, you will know. You will have no doubt nor will the person you have been chosen for. And you will know what you need to do. Eventually you will forget this time you spent training, forget your former life and all the stress and worries you faced, and you will be nothing but their Guardian." As an afterthought Thaddeus added, "Oh, and in the early stages, while you do still remember what you really are, be careful of those who may be overly observant. One of my pupils had some writer in California almost spill the beans by letting him see her true nature and then freaking out a little when he called her on it. Be careful."

"So eventually I will not remember my life as a human? Or even my training here? Why do I have to forget these things?"

"It is one of the mysteries of our kind, Sadie." Thaddeus placed a hand on her head and looked down with tenderness at his student. "Personally, I believe it is because an awareness of what you really are would hinder your purpose. As a Guardian your ultimate goal is to help your charge discover the joy of life. You may be there to protect or to guide or just to be a companion, but your true purpose is really a simple thing. Knowing what you really are might make you feel you should be accomplishing something more dramatic. Maybe trying to make decisions or change things about your person. But the changes that need to be made must be brought about not by you but by the one you guard. And these changes will be made naturally if you just serve your purpose. When your time is done with your person, you will return here and all memories will be returned. In the meantime, you get a wonderful vacation free of worry. You get to live in the moment. It is a glorious thing! You'll see."

Sadie shook her head. She could see now that her new assignment would be a wonderful experience. Free from the worries and regrets she dealt with as a human, living fully in the here and now. Taking time not only to smell the roses, but also sniff the breeze and discover new wonders moment by moment. The ability to see the world not only around her, but beauty in everything about that world. Peace. Joy. Bliss.

"You're ready now?" Thaddeus asked.

"Yes!" Sadie now found it hard to control her enthusiasm. She felt more alive than she ever had during her mortal years.

"Excellent! That's the can do attitude we like to see in our Guardians!" Then Thaddeus whispered , "Close your eyes."

And she did...

"Mom! Dad! This is the one! This is the one!" Sadie opened her eyes and peered out at the boy in the wheelchair. Despite his apparent disability he seemed about to jump from the chair in a fit of joy. "Please! Please! Please! Please! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!"

Laughing, the boy's mother knelt down beside him and peered in at Sadie. "Well, Toby, she is certainly a beauty. What do you think, Hank?"

The tall man who had been pushing the wheelchair leaned over to peer at the radiant creature that held his son's attention. "She sure is shiny!"

"Pleeeeeeeeease!" The boy never looked away from Sadie while he pleaded with his parents. Sadie found herself getting excited because she knew without a doubt this boy was the one she was sent here for. Jumping around, wagging her tail, Sadie tried to shout with joy and was a little surprised to hear her bark for the first time. The puzzled look on her face brought a new round of laughter from the people looking in.

As the shelter attendant opened the kennel door, both Toby and Sadie grinned the biggest grins ever. Sadie ran to Toby and jumped into his arms as he leaned down from his wheelchair. As the boy embraced the dog for the first time, Sadie began to realize that she was already forgetting Thaddeus and her previous life as a human.

But Sadie knew that everything would be okay. In fact, she knew it would be perfect. She had now found the one thing that would bring her the most joy. She had received her reward for the good life she had led. She had been given the gift of bliss. She had been given Toby.

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