The littlest angel and his small wooden box

Brenda tells a heart-wrenching story from a Christmas past of a little boy she taught.

I had a twinge! Nothing to get excited about but a twinge nonetheless. The twinge was just a little Christmas quiver.

What brought it about you ask? Calls and email notes from friends from far away and long ago. My first donation stuffed into a Salvation Army Kettle. I had a little Christmas spirit happening.

My twinge has faded away sadly. I talked to old friends who have lost a special person in their life. Others battle with illness in another or themselves. My brother just called to tell me a cousin younger than I am passed away. It’s too much I tell you. To add to all this I have a little dog who staggers about on his last legs. I thought today would be his exit day but I said to him, “Not today Tuffy, not today.”

As I pondered the sadness in the world I think it is maybe time to tell you the story of the little Grade 1 pupil from long ago who taught me all about living life

The Littlest Angel

As another Christmas approaches we all seem to have memories which are more vivid the further back we go. Everyone is able to recall a time in the past when the festive season seemed much better or more meaningful than it is today. Often that is the case.

I have been most fortunate to have many Christmas seasons worth remembering. I can remember those when need be, but the time I recall more than any other was the winter I taught in a small country school on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

I had three grades in my class. Three grades of little people beaming with desire to learn all they could. One little chap in Grade 1 wanted to learn more than all the others. His round puffy face would smile up at me, reminding me over and over again that he would soon leave us. His small body harboured a terrible disease — leukemia. More often than not he would take his schooling in the hospital in Vancouver as he would once more bravely submit to another treatment.

We were all so pleased to have that little guy with us that special Christmas so long ago. We decorated our classroom, practised for the concert and coloured many pictures of Santa, angels and snowmen. We read Christmas stories. Some of the older children wrote good stories of their own.

On the day before the Christmas holiday would send us all home for three weeks, I read a new story to the class. It was about The Littlest Angel. This little angel had an awful time in heaven. He could not adjust to the routine. He was always in trouble, bumping into angels, tripping over clouds or dropping his halo. Nothing seemed to make his time any easier until one celestial day an archangel suggested the little angel return to Earth to retrieve some items from home. Just a few things to remind him of his past time.

As I read the story a silence fell over the children as they became more involved in the plight of the angel. In hushed voices we discussed the story, closing the page on another day at school.

The next day during our show-and-tell time, the little boy with leukemia asked if he could share something with the class. He sat in front of us on the old worn carpet with a small wooden box. His balding head bent over the box as he removed each item with care.

This is my first tooth, this is a ribbon from my sister’s hair and this is my puppy’s collar. My dad gave me this key. Mom said this rabbit’s foot will give me good luck!

Even before he told me the purpose of the box, we knew. Shiny tears went dot-to-dot down the freckled faces of the children.

I have all these things so when I go to heaven I won’t be too scared. Maybe you guys could make a picture for me to take so I will remember.

The rest of the day was spent doing just that. All of us made a picture, folded it carefully, placing it the wooden box.

The day ended with each child giving the little boy a big hug, getting a bright smile in return. I went home with a memory of a little boy who fought his disease and would one day accept his destiny.

The Christmas holidays came to a close and we all returned to our class — except the little boy. He died that Christmas in a hospital away from home clutching the wooden box which held his hopes and memories and ours. I have never forgotten that Christmas nor have I forgotten the little boy who in his short life gave so much.

A sad story I know, but it does put things in perspective.

You can call 250-846-5095 or just email your thoughts to mallory@bulkley.net.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

Who is or may be running in Stikine in the provincial election

Cullen nomination sparks controversy over NDP equity policy

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Witset releases COVID-19 strategy following three confirmed cases

Plan implements strict measures to contain spread of the virus

Meet the 10-year-old girl who grew a pineapple in northern B.C.

Emily Atkins discovers it takes a lot of patience to grow tropical fruit in a temperate climate

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Most Read