When we welcomed Tashia into our home and hearts we knew her time with us was limited due to the AIDS she had contracted from nine years of sexual abuse, and we prayed that she would live to see a glorious Christmas holiday in our home. Then, after only six safe months with us, the intensive care doctors said it was very possible that her debilitated little body did not have the strength to make the six days to Christmas. Knowing how sick she was, we had been preparing her gifts for months, just in case Christmas needed to come early at our house. My husband Carl had scoured garage sales and already had more than 300 gifts wrapped. Nine Christmas trees awaited her return -- including one in her bedroom! But she didn’t even have the strength to look at the photograph of her presents that we had placed next to the small Christmas tree in her hospital room. Now, her little eyes blazing with fever, she looked up at me and asked, “Mommy, am I going to die?” My heart in a vice, I wanted the wisdom of the ages -- luckily I only needed to answer with all the love and honesty I possessed, trusting that God would give me the words. “Of course you are sweetheart. All of us are going to die and go to see God someday. Remember? But I just asked the doctors, and they said you aren’t going to die today.” She smiled, closed her eyes and relaxed then -- she trusted me so completely because I had never lied to her or broken promises. “Tashia,” her Daddy smiled back tears, “you have to get better and come home and unwrap all of Santa’s presents!” In a flat, deafening whisper, she answered: “Santa’s never found me before -- how’s he going to find me now?” Taking her hand, smiling and bending to look her in the eyes, he answered: “Do you remember when we cut out all of the pictures from the Sears catalog (she couldn’t read or write), pasted them on a letter and sent them to Santa? Well, when Santa gets that letter, he sends your mommy and daddy a bill. There are millions of kids in the world, and Santa can’t afford to buy all the gifts. So maybe your other mommy couldn’t afford to pay the bill -- but I’VE already sent the check, so Santa knows exactly where you are and what you want. Now hurry up and get well and come home so we can have your Christmas Party!” Her parched, cracked lips broke into her wonderful, endearing gap-toothed smile as she asked “You promise?” “I promise,” Carl answered. We witnessed so many miracles in the two years we had Tashia for our daughter, and her rebound from death’s door, in just two days, was a monumental witness to the power of love and prayers and one small child’s tremendous will to live! The house was jammed with loving people who wanted the privilege of sharing what would probably be Tashia’s last Christmas. But she was interested in seeing only one guest. When she spied a red suit through the window, she squealed “Santa!” and hurried to swing open the door. As he stepped into the house, she flung her arms around him, looked up and demanded “Did you get my Daddy’s check?” Luckily, Santa had been prepared, “Why of course, Tashia! Your presents are all wrapped and loaded in the sled, waiting to be delivered!” The adults in the room were trying not to cry. We all realized that Tashia AND her Santa were terminally ill -- one with AIDS and one with Cancer. Tashia: young, so abused and afraid that she hid in closets, was holding on for dear life to a Santa in whom her child’s heart had yearned to believe. Dick Baker: a grandfather, not so young, wanted to grant this wounded angel a small piece of the joy God had granted him. We all got our wishes granted that day. Those of us fortunate enough to witness this healing miracle learned that granting wishes and healing hearts is EXACTLY what the message of Christmas is meant to portray. Jesus came into this world as all humans must -- a helpless baby, trusting that the adults in His life would protect Him until He could mature into the man God intended Him to be -- so that He could bring to this world the unique gifts that only He could contribute. The birth of each new child is God’s way of giving us a chance to renew His Covenant promise to the world. Sadly, for many children, this Covenant is not being kept by mankind. The sexual abuse by many men was not all this child suffered. When she finally learned to trust us, she told us stories no adult should have to hear, let alone a child experience. Stories of punishment: burning stovetops, baking ovens, closets with ropes and gags and chairs, choking cords, and never anywhere to hide -- or anyone to listen. For the first time in her life she was safe, only to be dying. How do you teach anyone -- let alone a child -- to die? We didn’t know either. Thankfully, there is a God who has all the answers, if we listen. We spoke to her often about God, Heaven, and about the fact that all of us die. But SHE told us at the end. Tashia couldn't wait to see God. She trusted us and God so totally that before she died she said to me: "Mommy, I hurt so bad, I want to see God, please help me die." She was afraid that if she wasn't Tashia Shipley we wouldn’t be able to find her in heaven. Man's laws would not allow us to adopt her; but God's law said Tashia could choose. So our priest had a sacred adoption around her bed and Tashia chose us to be her mommy and daddy "for ever and ever". I will never know a happier moment, while I am alive. A little later, in terrible pain, she perked up and wanted grape soda and "tayta" chips, taking only a small bite/sip of each. She had NEVER ordered grape soda - she loved her Pepsi. That night, for the last time, we joined her in prayers, and heard her say: "If I should die before I wake." We said our goodnights. Tashia told us she loved us and I asked, "How much?" As usual, Tashia replied, "Clear to God and back." Six months before, after her prayers she told me, "Mommy, I'm afraid, I don't know how to get to Heaven." "Sweetheart, I haven't been there either. But remember when I told you about your surgery? That you would hurt; you would go to sleep and not feel a thing. Then when you woke up you wouldn't remember anything and mommy would be there holding your hand. Mommy told the truth didn't she? Well, I think dying is like that. One day you will say 'God I don't want to hurt anymore, please take me to heaven.' And He will put his hand where it hurts; you will go to sleep. You won't remember anything and when you wake up God will be holding your hand instead of mommy." She smiled and relaxed; she trusted me, and God, so completely. I believe that it happened exactly the way I told her, because twelve hours after her adoption she chose to go to heaven. She died in absolute peace, with God's smile on her face. The experts all say that children like Tashia can’t be helped. But she taught me, as she did so many times, that the experts are wrong! We are all born into this world as angels, but some of us get our wings damaged and can no longer fly. The miracle she showed me is that TWO angels with damaged wings can hold each other up -- and if they can just hold on to each other long enough for their wings heal, they can BOTH take flight! When I hear people say that AIDS is a curse from God -- I ask them to see that God didn't send AIDS, but as with all evil in this world, He will see how decent people respond to the test. A man I know named Jesus went into the leper colonies -- He didn't expect all people to do that, but His view is pretty clear: "As you treat the least of these, so you treat Me." Good and evil both create an energy that we can feel in this world, and for too long many of us have let evil deeds outweigh the good. Now our world's soul is VERY out of balance and it is evident in every aspect of our lives. I believe that when we reach out to help another, we heal our own hearts, God smiles, and the energy of good in this world is increased. I have seen God's smile -- I have seen His smile on Tashia’s face when she died -- and I have felt the energy that love can create. Tashia’s respiration had gone from normal to zero - one moment to the next, her hand was open, as though she were holding something; and she had the most peaceful smile on her face, a smile we hadn't seen for quite a while. We have no doubt that Tashia chose the moment she would see God! A few days later, we not only realized that she had "bread and wine" - her last communion of grape soda and chips -she had also chosen to be with God exactly two years TO THE DAY that God had given her to us. Tashia’s short life taught us that we can choose to heal our world, one Angel at-a-time
“Love you - clear to God and back” Tashia
HOW ANGELAID STARTED Angels Believe in Santa
click or scroll
ADDRESS Thrift Store 3581 Emerson& Spring Park Rd. Jacksonville, FL 32207 Estate Sale 4195 Beach Blvd.Rear Next to Bono’s Jacksonville, FL 32207
AngelAID 1990 - 2022 - Created & Maintained by Arlene Shipley
CONTACT e: f: 904.398.4882 MAILING ADDRESS PO Box 47527 Jacksonville, FL 32247-7527