The Living Legacy
A Touched By An Angel story
Written in dedication to Charles Rocket
By: Yvette Jessen

     The wind blew through the trees, the rustling sounds could be heard all around, the resonance giving off an autumn feel reminiscent of a Halloween night. Yet, instead of the scene being filled with the happy cries of children, the air carried a literal heaviness that seemed to swallow any sounds, thus leaving an indescribable grief in its wake. These peculiar cadences sounded as though someone had taken an empty bottle and had blown across it as though playing a flute in a band. This sound continued for much of the evening, even after the sun had vanished behind the trees, and darkness had surrounded the wooded park.

     In the middle of a clearing near a group of wooden benches, a lone figure walked, his steps slow and in a precise rhythm. Reaching the benches and instead of sitting down, the man remained standing, his hands digging in the pockets of the matching trench coat that he wore over a light gray suit.
    As he turned, light fell upon his solemn face as a gust of wind blew his graying hair, thus ruffling it somewhat. Regardless, his head remained bowed, his worn suit hanging lifelessly from his slumped shoulders. He must have been standing there for some time, his dejected silhouette somehow standing out, yet the overall feel in him seemed void of any sort of life.

     He began to rub his cheeks, thus trying to put some life back into his numb hands and face. What good would it do for him to show the rest of the world the deplorable sadness that encased him? How would he be able to continue to do the work that God asked him to do? The questions ravaged his shattered spirit one after the other as he shook his head solemnly, trying without any success at concealing the utter heartbreak that blanketed him. How could he ever find the courage and will to go on? Things had changed, in only a split second, a solitary heartbeat; one event had changed everything and this night his hope had all but dried up.

     The wind continued to blow against him, the hollow sounds of it now being replaced by the chirping of crickets as he started to walk slowly in the direction of a clearing and away from the benches. Beneath his feet, he could hear the crackle of dead leaves filling his ears and momentarily making him stop walking and stand completely still.

     His eyes were scanning the horizon, and in the depths of his being, he somehow was expecting to see another person coming towards him. Was it to offer their comfort during this difficult time or was it simply a figment of his imagination? He did not know either way, instead, he recognized that his friends were not around and somehow; he was left standing alone in his grief.

     “I am an angel,” he whispered under his breath to no one in particular. “This should be so easy for me, so defined, yet there is so much inside of me that I don’t understand.” He shook his head, but instead of hearing the sounds of the wind as it continued to blow, a tiny voice emerged, thus making him whirl around only to look into the eyes of a small girl who couldn’t have been much older than five or six-years-old.

     “You’re an angel?” She asked him, her voice filled with the simple innocence reminiscent of one who was too young to logically interpret or comprehend the words he had been speaking. It was this child who spoke straight from the heart, and these words literally pierced his consciousness.

     Instead of immediately responding, the man lowered his head for several seconds all the while hoping that one of his friends had come to offer their comfort, and not have to answer to a complete stranger. Seconds slowly ticked by and he regarded the sweet, innocent face of the child. Her face was muddy, as though she had played in a large mud puddle for much of the day. Her hair hung in clumps down over her shoulders as though she had allowed the caked mud to dry out. He could not make out her hair color because it was dark outside, but he guessed that it was a dark brown, almost black, color. Strands of it seemed to find their way against the sides of her face, but with a pudgy hand, she moved it aside, her soft eyes illuminated by the light that was cast by the nearly full moon.

     “Am I what, sweetheart?” He eventually found himself asking, hoping that this distraction would divert his focus from his otherwise miserable contemplations.

     “Are you really an angel like you said just now?” She repeated her question in a different manner, her words soft, but it did not emerge filled with wonder or happy cadences, instead it came across matter-of-fact, as though this little girl had been waiting for him to appear and speak to her.

     Instead of contemplating or waiting for the answer to come as he usually did, he simply nodded numbly. “Yes, my name is Adam.”

     “Like the story of ‘Adam and Eve’, in the Bible?” The child asked as she looked up into the eyes of the tall man, her innocence seeming to literally knock the downtrodden angel from his feet, and leaving him literally gasping for breath.

     “Yes, I’m actually named after him,” he whispered.

     “My name is Amy,” she said softly, but noticing his face, she backed up somewhat uncertain if her introduction was even welcomed by him. She could see that he appeared to be just as miserable as she felt, but why that was the case, she did not trust herself to inquire.

     “What are you doing out here all by yourself, Amy?” He found himself eventually asking, his words soft, but filled with curious and concerned undertones.

     “I always come here alone. It was the last place that I could remember my dad coming to when he was alive,” the child said softly as she pointed to a crop of trees some distance away. “My mom said that he was ready to go see the angels in Heaven. I started coming here hoping that I might actually meet an angel and that they would be able to tell me that my dad is happy there.” She shook her head as she looked out across the meadow; her gaze seemed to lock on one specific place and that being the trees.

     “Did your father really say this about the angels?” Adam asked.

     The child nodded. “Yeah, he believed in angels and my mom said that he wrote about them in a note that he left for her. I didn’t see the note, because I can’t read yet, but she said that there was a lot of stuff in the note that I wouldn’t understand. I don’t think he wanted to live anymore.” She shook her head sadly and looked down at her hands. “She said that when I’m older that I would probably be able to understand, but I don’t think that she even understands herself and she’s really old…like thirty something.”

     Adam nodded and smiled slightly at her last words. “To be honest, I don’t think anyone is ever really able to fully understand why this sort of thing happens. Whether it is children or grown-ups. Even being an angel doesn’t make me fully understand it although I try, but I’ve been an angel for centuries, and still I don’t. For what it’s worth, I think you may be right about your mom, but I believe that given the situation, she’s trying to do her best to help,” Adam said and watched as the little girl started to walk towards the trees and after hesitating, he slowly began to follow her.

     When they reached the group of trees, Amy reached her tiny hand out towards it and touched the rough uneven bark that covered it.

     “Mom doesn’t know this, but Dad said that he was ready to go Home to meet God, but he hoped that an angel would come and take him there. I think that he was scared that God would not forgive him for wanting to give up.”

     “Some may say this, but God loves your dad without any condition, Amy, and the Father would forgive him, because He loves him so very much,” Adam said softly as the tears began to flow freely from beneath his unhappy grey eyes. “He loves you as well, and He knows that this is not easy for any of you, but did you know that the Father will strengthen you in ways that you cannot even imagine? It happens when people least expect it. The comfort will come to you.”

     As he finished speaking, the angel swallowed unconsciously as he felt the truth in these words literally encase him, but still the tears were uncontrollably streaming down over his face and leaving red and puffy skin in their wake. This, if anything left his face even more worn and haggard than before.

     Although he did not say everything he knew, the Angel of Death had known the child’s father. It was impossible for him to be mistaken; she looked just like him, the structure of her face, a younger version of the man whom he had taken Home. Adam had seen the extent of sadness that enveloped the man, it had been reflected in his eyes, but now dwelled in the eyes of his daughter, and this broke the angel’s heart.

     The issue of suicide was one that he knew did not just affect the one who went through with it, but it affected the family and friends of the person as well. Through these experiences, the angel knew beyond a doubt that people didn’t end their lives to fall out of favor with God. How could it, when he himself knew that God was unconditionally loving and the message he had shared was one of a Creator embodied in love?

     Adam looked down at the child as she continued to stroke the bark of the tree, as his own thoughts seemed to be a thousand miles away. He recalled all the times when he had been assigned to those people who had simply lost all hope, and had been in prolonged state of manic depression.

     He continued to watch the child as she sat down underneath the tree, and he eventually got down on his knees next to her, his memories returning him to a time when he had met with his angelic friend, Andrew and had heard tell of a rancher who had ended his life on his fortieth birthday, thus leaving his wife and child alone. Adam himself had wrongly judged the situation, but at the same time, realized that he had experienced cases of this kind as well. Yet, no matter how many things he had experienced as an Angel of Death, each time it was new and different.

     Ever since meeting Amy’s father, Adam had realized how wrong it had been for him to judge anyone who had such a cross to bear, and from this moment on, he would never do such a disservice to another person again.

     In truth, his own assignment had not been all that different from the one Andrew had described; in fact, both paralleled in a great many ways. The man had not been all that old, perhaps in his mid to late thirties, his words similar to that which Andrew had described, right down to the depressing undertones of the man’s voice, which had literally filled him with absolute sadness. It had happened often with men, and depression among men was a growing problem in society. This the angel had learned the hard way, but it seemed overlooked.

     Shaking his head, the angel tried without much success to block the feelings that emanated his heart and mind. After what seemed like an eternity stuck in his own contemplations, he looked down into the innocent eyes of the child, and in those eyes, he saw something he had not seen anywhere since that fateful night. He could see the living legacy that the man had left behind in her, and although he was still filled with sadness, a spark of hope began to show itself in the depths of the child’s soft gray eyes.

     After sitting in companionable silence for some time, the child innocently reached over and pulled on the sleeve of Adam’s trench coat, thus seeking his attention. Upon feeling this, he looked down into her innocent eyes; her next words tearing at his already tormented spirit.

     “Adam, I miss my dad,” she whispered.

     “I know you do, sweetheart,” he said softly, the empathy taking hold of the unhappy angel and literally jolting him away from his own sadness for a moment as he regarded her before gently helping her back to her feet and leading her over to the bench so that the two of them could sit down. He watched as she began to wring her hands together.

     Adam seated himself next to the little girl, and at that moment, the angel could see that she probably felt even more lost than he was. Explaining suicide to a small child was close to impossible, he knew this because he had experienced it for years, centuries even, and each time; it had become harder and harder for him to try and put this into a perspective that the child could understand.

     His thoughts continued to drift as he contemplated all the times he had unwittingly joked about death, and although the angels in his company thought he was insensitive with his blunt and sometimes disinterested remarks, internally, this sort of thing tore at him every time and on top of those feelings, he was often asked to bring those lost and lonely souls Home.

     It was never an easy task for an angel, but it was especially hard for an Angel of Death. The trouble that seemed to fill his heart and mind was that most of the angels figured that he didn’t understand the pain at all, but the truth was he had met so many people during his time on earth that emanated this. Yet, through it all, the job had somehow hardened him about the topic of death. It was, after all, the most tremendous honor that the Father could have bestowed upon him and he could not imagine being placed elsewhere.

     Tragically, the suicide of Amy’s father was the event, which had done the angel in. The man’s untreated depression had been what had led to his death, and those around him had not taken that sense of hopelessness seriously. He had literally been left laughing on the outside and crying on the inside, yet trying to explain that to family and friends was never easy and now he felt as though he would eventually have to explain that to this little girl.

     His eyes returned to Amy, the child had pulled a small package out of her pocket and he recognized the yellow packaging as peanut M&M’s. The little girl popped a piece of the candy into her mouth and began to chew almost automatically.

     “Adam,” she whispered between bites of the chocolates and the angel turned, but instead of speaking about her father, she extending the package to him. “Want some?”

     He shook his head, “no, thank you.” He rested his elbows on his knees and lowered his head. It was in this stance, he remained, the tears still streaming down over his cheeks, but after a few moments, Amy looked over at him and once she had stuffed the now empty package in the pocket of her coat, she pulled out a crumpled up tissue and set to work at wiping the moisture from the angel’s face.

     “Why do you cry?” She asked.

     “I don’t really know, I suppose it is because I feel for you and your mother, for how hard this is for you both,” he whispered.

     “But you didn’t do anything,” she whispered innocently. “You helped him.”

     “I tried,” he whispered, but looked into the eyes of the little girl.

     “I’m cold,” the child eventually whispered, instead of offering some sort of response to his words.

     Without thinking about his actions, Adam pulled the trench coat off and wrapped it around the child. “Is that better?” He eventually asked.

     “Yeah,” came the answer as she tried to wrap the large jacket around herself. When she started to warm up, she looked at him. “Are you going to take me to Heaven tonight, Adam?” She asked softly. “Is that why you’re here, to take me to see my dad?”

     “No, sweetheart I cannot take you there,” he responded, but put his arm around her and pulled her into his embrace, her tiny body still chilly from the cool night air. “You have your life ahead of you and the people who are here still need you.”

     “But what about my dad?” She asked.

     “Perhaps it will help to know that your dad can see you from Heaven, and he is very proud of you,” he said softly.

     “But I can’t see him,” she whispered. “And I want to so badly.”

     “I know you do, and whether you believe it or not, he’s still with you in spirit,” the angel cajoled her gently.

     The little girl shook her head. “But it’s not the same.”

     “I know it’s not, and perhaps it won’t ever be the same, but I think that one day, when you stop feeling the pain of the moment, you will come to know that your father is with you and he loves you,” Adam said softly.

     “Then why did he go away?” She whispered. “Didn’t he love us anymore?”

     “I don’t know why he left, sweetheart, but don’t ever believe, not even for a moment, that he didn’t love you. You are, after all a living legacy of your father, of the love he shared with your mother and held for you. Even if the time he was with you was short, the love still exists and will never die. That same love is what God holds for you.”

     “I only feel sad,” she whispered honestly, her tiny voice cracking.

     “I know and today, it may not feel as though my words mean very much. It may seem more like an excuse from a grown up because it sounds good, but it is the absolute truth. No matter where your father is or what he is doing, you are a mirror of the love that he is, you are his daughter and thus are a reflection of the love that made him who he was. I know that it may seem hard, and even unbelievable to you, but it is the truth. Your dad loved you, just as the Father loves you.” As he spoke, the light of God’s love surrounded him and he looked at the little girl who was resting in his arms with love and gentility in his eyes.

     Amy did not move, instead, she sat and listened attentively as he continued to speak. “I know that you cannot always hug or embrace this idea, but I can tell you that your dad still loves you and that love will always remain.”

     “He still loves me?” Amy whispered as the tears streamed down over her face and she regarded the angel, the light that surrounded him eventually fading.

     “Yes,” he said gently. “He does still love you, and he will for all eternity.”

     Amy nodded and after a few moments, the little girl turned when she heard someone calling her name. “That’s my mom.”

     “Go to her, then,” he said softly. “She needs you.”

     “But then you’ll be alone, Adam,” the child whispered.

     “No, Amy, I’m never alone. Even during the hardest moments of my existence, I will never be alone, because God is always with me,” he said softly as the little girl released her hold on him, returned his jacket, and with a final look into the eyes of the angel, she turned away from him before running over and joining her mother.

     Once the two of them had disappeared in the distance, Adam put his jacket back on and sat down on the bench and stared out across the meadow.

     Seconds passed and Andrew appeared next to him. “Adam? The Father said that you were here, are you alright?” He eventually asked, the blonde headed angel regarding him with concern in his compassionate green eyes. He sat down on the bench next to his friend and waited for an answer.

     “I think so,” Adam whispered. “Somehow, the things that I have been able to tell her have really helped.”

     “I believe you,” Andrew said with an unhappy sigh. “The Father’s inspiration somehow works that way when we need it the most.”

     Adam nodded, his thoughts returning to the conversation that he had shared with Amy. “She’s truly a living legacy of her father, he would be proud.”

     “He is, and the Father is as well. But all children are, and the Father’s message to you is to remind you that even though tragedy sometimes comes and people go Home before their time, the knowing does help those one leaves behind, specifically when it comes to grief.” Andrew took a deep breath before he continued speaking. “Adam, God knows and understands your pain in having to do all of this, that’s why He gave you the right words at the right moments, and what you told Amy, she desperately needed to hear.” As the younger of the two angels spoke, he leaned over and put his arm around Adam’s shoulder. “It doesn’t always make things easier at the time, and healing will not always be immediate, but somehow it does give us the strength when we need it the most. And you know that the Father doesn’t always give us what we want, but He will always give us what we need.”

     Adam nodded sadly as the tears streamed from beneath his eyes and he allowed himself to cry in the arms of his friend.


The topic of suicide is never an easy one for anyone to write about, much less try to grasp. When someone’s life ends tragically, then I cannot hide the shock that tends to encompass and fill my heart. I know that it is very important to remember the life of those who have touched our lives and not their death, but it is never easy. It no longer matters to me if we know this person, are friends with them, or have never met them. Somehow, when death happens, we are reminded in a very profound way of our own mortality. However, I have also learned in a very profound way that every person has the potential to leave a legacy behind, whether it is in the eyes of their children, or those whom they meet or indirectly inspire, and this is the legacy that Charles Rocket has left with me.

The title of this piece came about because during the time that I had heard of his passing I had been listening to the music of Dan Fogelberg, and one of the songs, ‘Leader of the Band’, stood out in my mind as a poignant ideal. As I listened to this song, the words ‘I am a living legacy to the leader of the band’, somehow captivated me and left me to realize that not only am I the living legacy of my deceased father, but that we are all living legacies of love from those who came before us. This will remain even after our days on this earth are through. Thus, the lives of another, even if it is someone we admired, but never knew, can leave us inspired and changed.

I will say this honestly; the death of Charles Rocket has hit me rather hard on a personal level, and not just because he was one of my all-time favorite actors, but also because during the last year, my life has been haunted by others who have attempted suicide, some succeeding while others failing. I have discovered that most of the people who have gone through with it have suffered from one form of depression or another and have seen no way out of this virtual dark tunnel. This is the angle my tribute story has taken, and although it may not be accurate, it does depict a truth that I have experienced first hand when I heard that this had happened in the lives of people I knew personally. Charles Rocket’s tragic passing has only reaffirmed the feelings I carry about the topic of suicide. Depression that goes undiagnosed or untreated can lead to suicide, and telling a manic-depressive to ‘cheer up’ is not a workable solution or treatment for said person. It is for that reason that I will never judge another person for their choices, but my heart did break when I heard that Charles Rocket had left us.

The greatest legacy of Charles Rocket’s work was, in my opinion, the character of Adam. He has always been one of my favorite characters, and I still consider myself one of Adam’s biggest appreciators. Adam always had a different way of looking at things, whether it was death, life, or even angels. His kindness, but sarcastic demeanor made him a character I could strongly identify with and thus, understand. My favorite moment of Adam was when he was with Serena during the episode ‘Fear Not’ as well as him and Alexander in ‘Unexpected Snow’.

It was through these characterizations that I longed to show a side of Adam through my writing that gave him a more developed role in stories, and thus helped to develop me as a writer. The opportunity to write his character more intensely provided me the stepping stones to moving into the realm of original writing. For me, Adam was the most real of the angel characters, he was the one that had the most potential as a developing character and if given the chance, then he could have been the endless source of surprises. No, he was not perfect, he did not convey that, but he showed me something about God’s love as well as His/Her sense of humor. It is for this reason that Adam remains one of the most wonderful characters I have ever seen and the man who brought this unique character to life will be sorely missed. His talent and humor were unprecedented.

Charles Rocket, you have left us a legacy, you may not have known this in life, but it exists and will remain a source of inspiration to us for years to come.

Yvette Jessen
October 19, 2005

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