“When I was a child, my father was my whole world. We were inseparable and he always picked me up when I fell. He called me his angel. But when I was 11 he began drinking, and soon abandoned my mother and me, saying we were better off without him.
“Through my teenage years I prayed he’d contact me, and when he didn’t, I grew angry and eventually gave up hope. And over the years, I’ve continued to ask God to take away the hurt.
“One night a few months ago, I had a vivid dream of an old man in a hospital bed. ‘He’ll be in God’s hands soon,’ a nurse whispered. When I awoke, I had an overwhelming urge to call around to area hospitals and ask if my father was a patient. To my surprise, one of them confirmed that he was—and that he didn’t have much time left.
“A half hour later, my heart thundered as a nurse led me to his bedside and explained that he was in the last stages of lung cancer. He wearily studied my face. He then smiled weakly and whispered, ‘My angel.’
“In that moment, the last 40 years slid away. ‘I love you, Daddy,’ I said with healing honesty. ‘I forgive you.’ He squeezed my hand as a sense of love and peace filled the room…and he drew his last breath.
“I’ve always believed in God’s perfect timing, but that moment took my breath away.” —Angela Penn, 52, Los Angeles