Written by Sonia Cecilia Pereira, illustrated by Melanie McIntyre.
Poppy was a brave girl. She was hardly ever afraid of anything. She was not afraid of bugs and would let worms stroll on the palm of her hand. When someone brought a lizard to school one day, she was the first one to pet it. She enjoyed climbing trees and she was not afraid of heights. And when the lights went out at night, Poppy knew that everything was ok and she would fall asleep peacefully.
Every summer Poppy would visit her grandma for a couple of weeks.
One day during her stay, she heard in the news that a big storm would pass through her grandma’s village. People were advised to stay home and buy water, food and flashlights in case they lost electricity. At first, Poppy was as happy as ever and was not afraid of the incoming storm. She actually liked storms. She enjoyed how they left the air smelling clean and crisp and how they left the plants looking greener and brighter. She enjoyed staying dry and warm inside, sipping hot chocolate and looking out the window.
However, when this storm arrived, the sky became really dark in the middle of the day. The tree in front of her window was swinging back and forth and she could hear the wind howling down their chimney. Poppy started to become a little scared. She turned to her grandma who was quietly knitting in her armchair.
“Granny, this storm is bigger than any storm I’ve seen!”
“Indeed, it is, Poppy! You’re right!”
“Aren’t you afraid of it, Granny?”
“No, my dear Poppy, I’m not really afraid.”
“How come you’re not?”
“Well, my dear, first of all we’ve prepared as well as we could for the storm. We bought food and water and we have flashlights and candles on hand. Our car has enough gas to take us anywhere if we need to. The roof has been repaired this summer, and the tree you see in front of you is too far from our home to make any damage!”
“That’s true, Granny,” agreed Poppy pensively.
“And second,” continued Granny calmly, ”while I was busy knitting this blue scarf for you, I was also praying to the angels to keep our home and the two of us out of harm’s way…”
“You were praying to the angels?!” asked Poppy with a curious look on her face.
“Well yes, dear, I was.”
“I know you sometimes pray to the angels, but tell me, Granny, how do you know that they hear us or that they can do anything to protect us from this huge storm?” asked Poppy with her eyes wide open.
“Well, dear, let me tell you about a special angel that I usually pray to. His name is Archangel Michael.” Granny made a pause and told her grandchild in a solemn tone, as if she was telling her an important secret:
“Archangel Michael is a very strong and powerful angel. He can send hundreds of angels to our home and our entire village so that everyone is kept safe.”
“Wow, that sounds awesome! I have never heard of him before! But… how do you know that he can really hear you?”
“Poppy, angels hear us, as soon as we think of them!”
As soon as she finished the sentence, the phone rang. It was Poppy’s Mom and Dad. They wanted to know if they were all right.
“Mom, we are fine! This is a scary storm, but the angels are keeping us safe,” said Poppy confidently.
“All right,” said her mom laughing at Poppy’s answer, “also when you come back home you will have a surprise waiting for you!”
Poppy was curious… What could the surprise be?
That evening Poppy watched a funny movie and wrote in her journal. Then she asked her grandma about all the storms and other scary moments she had lived through. Granny was sure the Archangel had kept her safe. Even when things would apparently go wrong for a while, Granny could always see how the angels had protected her from something much worse. Poppy admired her grandma’s faith and her calm demeanour even in the middle of such a big storm. By ten o’clock, the storm seemed to have calmed down, and Grandma tucked Poppy gently to bed. Poppy fell quickly asleep, as she always did.
The following day they woke up to a calmer sky. Some branches of neighbouring trees had fallen, but the storm had not caused any larger damage. Soon Poppy was back at playing outside with her friends, climbing her favourite trees, and cycling down the steepest hills at fast speed. She was the same fearless girl she had always been. Summers with her Granny always went fast and time to go back home quickly arrived.
“Poppy, we’ll take the 12 o’clock train home today.”
“I can’t wait to see Mom and Dad again!” exclaimed Poppy, “And to find out what surprise they have for us…”
“I am curious too! We’ll have to wait and see! Now let’s finish packing!”
That afternoon, in the train, Poppy showed her Granny a special drawing she had done in her journal. It was a picture of an angel with golden wings and a blue vest. Next to the picture it read:
“Dear Archangel Michael,
Please keep my Granny and me safe tonight. This storm is loud, so we need lots of angels around us. Thank you for your help!”
“Why, Poppy, I love your picture and letter to Archangel Michael. How beautiful!”
“Thank you, Granny!”
“It’s funny because in your drawing Michael is dressed in blue, and blue is the colour he is normally pictured in! And did you know that one way to ask for his help is to imagine yourself or someone else surrounded by blue light, just like in your drawing?! You sometimes really surprise me. You are just so intuitive!” Poppy was beaming proudly and then mumbled, “I wonder if Archangel Michael really read my letter….”
“Oh, dear, I am sure he did! He would not miss it! If you ask him for a sign, he will give you one. Sometimes I find a white feather unexpectedly or a beautiful bird comes to sing at my window when I am praying. Angels talk to people in many ways. Some people dream with angels, others receive signs, others can actually see or hear them. However what really matters is that we believe in them!”
Poppy was more intrigued than ever. She stared at the blue sky outside. Would she ever receive a sign? Or a dream?
At the train station, Poppy pounded towards her Mom and Dad.
“I missed you so much!” exclaimed her mom squeezing her in a big hug!
“You look taller, Poppy! You two look great,” exclaimed daddy embracing his daughter and her grandmother.
“Mommy, daddy, can you tell me what is the surprise? I’m so curious!” Poppy could hardly wait…
“Wait and see…” said Dad, “This way, please, ladies. We have the car in the lower level.”
In the car Poppy’s Mom and Dad wanted to hear all about her vacation, including the scary storm. But they had some news too.
“Poppy, Sandy had six puppies a week ago,” announced dad, “I heard they are the cutest puppies ever. Mrs. Evelyn said you could stop by anytime to see them. Do you want to visit them on our way home?”
They were arriving at Mrs. Evelyn’s driveway, when a very distressed lady walked towards them.
“Hi Poppy! Hi all! I am so glad you’re here! Something really unfortunate just happened!!” Mrs. Evelyn was almost out of breath. “I was on the phone with my niece, and when I went back to check Sandy, one of the puppies had disappeared. I’ve been looking all over the house! I can’t find it anywhere!”
“Mrs. Evelyn, we’ll help you search!” said Granny reassuringly. “And I’m sure we’ll find it!”
“Oh, thank you, thank you! Please come in!” hurried Mrs. Evelyn.
Poppy went straight to the sun room where Sandy usually was. There she was with five adorable puppies. But she looked sad.
“Sandy, my girl, look at you and your puppies! Oh, how cute they are! Don’t be so sad! I’ll find your puppy! I will!” said Poppy caressing the fuzzy head of her favourite dog in the whole world. Poppy feared for what might happen to a helpless puppy if they did not find it soon enough. Suddenly she remembered what her grandma taught her about Archangel Michael and she imagined the puppy surrounded by blue light. Then she said out loud: “Archangel Michael, please protect the missing puppy, and please send angels to protect him!” Those words helped her calm down and think carefully about the possible whereabouts of the dog. Since Mrs. Evelyn had looked inside the house, Poppy decided to run outside, into the back yard. She could see nothing at a first glance. She looked behind the rocks and the shed with the garden tools, but she found nothing. “Could it be in the thick bushes next to the fence?” she wondered. She searched through the prickly bushes, not afraid of getting scratched. She was determined to find that puppy! Suddenly she spotted a small white fuzzy ball with brown spots just like Sandy! She gasped, then smiled and quietly approached the frightened animal.
She picked it up with the greatest care whispering sweet words in her ears. Poppy fell in love with this dog immediately. As she was gently walking home she saw a blue balloon fly up in the sky, and for a moment she could almost swear that she saw two golden wings around it. Her heart pounded and she whispered “Thank you Archangel Michael! You rock!”
She walked towards the house with the greatest care, reassuring the puppy. “Oh, you found it!” said relived Mrs. Evelyn as she saw Poppy walking through the rear door. “Poppy, how can I thank you? Did your Mom tell you about the surprise yet? You will get to keep one of Sandy’s puppies. You’ve been such a friend to her, looking after her when I was away, that you really deserve it! And you can choose any of them.”
In her heart Poppy had already chosen. She had it right between her hands. This warm fuzzy creature was making her so happy already. “I chose this one,” said Poppy quietly, “and I’ll call it Angel.”
Angel was back with Sandy, who licked it lovingly. Everything was now well at Mrs. Evelyn’s. Everyone sat down for tea, after the search and rescue adventure. It was agreed that Poppy would visit Sandy and the puppies in the next weeks until Angel was ready to go to her new home.
And as Poppy wrote in her journal that night, she had another reason to be happy. She had received her first sign from Archangel Michael!
This story is lovingly dedicated to all children (who are the first to believe in angels) and to Archangel Michael, who I thank for his protection, guidance, beautiful signs and wonderful teachings.
I am grateful to Diana Muenz Chen for all she taught me about Archangel Michael, to Nancy Eder for her encouragement when proofreading my stories, to Idalina, Fernando and Nuno for believing in me and to Clara and Tomi for bringing out the inner child in me.