When I think about angels, wings, robes and haloes come to mind.
There are, however, angels who keep their haloes hidden.
Recently, a large box was delivered on a woman’s front porch.
The woman brought the box inside, sat it down in her living room and opened it.
She lifted a wedding gown from the box and admired it before she placed it with the others in her daughter’s childhood bedroom.
The donated gown is one of many the woman has opened in the last few years.
She is a volunteer seamstress.
She works for hours on end to make Angel Gowns.
Angel Gowns are garments created for families who have lost a child too small for baby clothing sold in stores.
They are sewn from the dresses shipped from all over the United States to her house.
Along with them comes the hope a dress used to make happy memories on a bride’s special day may provide a small measure of comfort for a mother in the midst of her darkest one.
The woman is able to meet some of the people who donate their wedding gowns, and she hears their stories.
One dress was donated by a woman whose family member lost her baby at just 21 weeks.
One was given by a mother just after her daughter finished her fight against cancer.
Another was donated after a bride’s husband died just four months into their marriage, on Thanksgiving day.
Some of the stories the woman hears almost match her own.
She became a mother at 26, when she and her husband welcomed a baby boy.
He was small and sick, but he was a fighter.
He fought for nine days.
They got a plot in the church cemetery, and they buried their first child under a heart-shaped headstone.
Less than a year later, just six days after her 27th birthday, the woman and her husband had another son.
He entered the world after just 28 weeks.
He was small and sick.
The first three months of his life were spent in a hospital.
She stayed there with him until the doctors allowed her and her husband to bring him home.
When she was 30, the woman and her husband welcomed their daughter.
They raised two children, and they remember their first baby.
She’s lived through her share of dark days, but she’s found a way to use them to help others through theirs.
The woman is part of a bigger Angel Gowns network, but the donations have piled up.
People have taken up sewing gowns to help, but there aren’t enough hands to sew gowns from all of the dresses she’s gotten.
The lack of hands hasn’t stopped her.
When enough gowns are made from a dress, the woman takes them to a hospital.
She shares stories and she gives the gowns to nurses.
The nurses give them to mothers who sit in neonatal intensive care units like the ones the woman sat in with her sons.
“They’ve all got a story and it’s all sad,” she said. “I want to help them all. What can I say?”
I say she’s an angel.