“Well,” he said, “You’re here early, aren’t you?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “I am. I’m not really sure what happened, but here I am.”
The man smiled pleasantly.
“Is that ok?” I asked. “Can I still join you?”
He swallowed hard and looked into my eyes.
“Absolutely!” he stated. “We’re glad you’re here. Don’t ever doubt that.”
I stretched out my hand to shake his. He grabbed it tightly and pulled me in for a big bear hug. It took me by surprise, but in a good way. Something told me I could trust him.
“Thanks for having me,” I said, still caught in his embrace.
When he finally released me, I awkwardly said, “Again, I’m sorry I’m here so early.”
“You shouldn’t worry about it,” he replied. “We all know it wasn’t your fault.”
“Thanks for understanding,” I said. “I just hope it won’t ruin anything.”
He paused, then said, “Things here will be just fine. Now, let’s get you settled in, Michael. I think you’re going to like where we’ve put you.”
“Michael?” I asked. “Why are you calling me Michael?”
He patted my back and said, “Because that’s your name.”
“I’ve never heard it before.”
“What did your parents call you?”
“Well, they never really called me by name. They usually just referred to me as the kid. You know how parents are. They say things like ‘I don’t know what to do with this kid,’ ‘I wish that kid was coming at a different time,’ ‘That kid’s just not going to be worth the effort.’”
“You heard your parents say all of that?”
“I’m saddened that you heard that. I’m sure it really hurt your feelings.”
“It did, but I turned out ok, I guess.”
“You look fine to me now, Michael.”
“So I’m really Michael, huh?”
“Yeah, you are. You know, your grandma wanted to call you Michael if…”
“I know,” I said. “If I had been born.”
“Yeah,” he said.
“You know,” I said. “I thought I was being born. I saw a light and then, darkness again, and then I was here…”
He put his hands on my shoulders and said, “Michael. I wish you could have lived the life I planned for you. You would have loved it.”
Tears streamed down my face and I hugged him once again. I could feel his heart beating in rhythm with mine.
“I love you, Michael,” he said. “I want you to live with me here forever.”
I smiled and said, “Thank you, Jesus. I love you, too.”
*photo courtesy of Drew Patrick Miller and Unsplash