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They followed the technician’s directions, and while they waited for their paperwork, Paul used his PID to set up a ride home.
Paul thought he was just checking on his mother now and then, but once they were in a car on the way home, his mother smiled at him.
“Assuming my health could turn for the worst in another thirty seconds, I promise I’ll let you know if that happens, but this has to be the fiftieth time you’ve asked if I feel OK, and I have to admit it’s starting to make me nervous,” she said.
Paul stared at her.
“I know you’re worried.” She put a hand on his shoulder, probably in an effort to spare some of his feelings. “I really do feel better. I’m tired, and honestly hungry. If I feel any pain at all, I’ll tell you.”
He shrugged, supposing he’d get self conscious if someone kept asking him if he were OK. “Do you at least want to shut your eyes a bit on the way home?”
Her eyebrows furrowed in though. “That would actually be nice.” She leaned over to rest her head on her window. After a few moments, her breathing slowed.
Of course she’s exhausted. Even setting aside how long they were at the hospital, the sheer punishment her body went through would be enough to make anyone want to sleep for a week.
Paul felt guilty having to gently shake her awake when they got to the house, but it was only a few minutes until he had her in her own bed and resting comfortably. She muttered a few times that she was still hungry, which was odd given how her body recently treated any kind of food, but she never really came awake enough to do much more than that.
Once she was back asleep, Paul went to the kitchen to set up some food for her so it was ready when she woke. The motion of it gave him a chance to think. She’d said time and again that she really did feel OK. She hadn’t needed to vomit. Maybe she really was feeling better.
Paul immediately set the package of saltine crackers he was arranging for his mother to eat down. “Um … thank you.” He shut his eyes. “I feel like an idiot. But I asked that she not be in pain, and she says she feels alright, and I’m grateful for that. I know what I said back at the hospital, and all of that is still true.”
He fought back a surge of emotion that was some odd combination of relief, fear, and sadness. “Whatever else happens. She’s not feeling that incredible pain anymore. She’s not asking for death. I just wanted to thank you for that. I hope she doesn’t go through that again. Whatever happens, just don’t let her feel that sort of agony again. Um … Amen?”
He felt foolish, but he codlin’t deny what just happened. Of course the doctors gave her medicine. Of course they did whatever tests they thought to do, but it was more than that. They were a part of something that was so much bigger. He had to admit what he’d felt all along. There was a God. Maybe that God hated him. But even then, he’d asked God for something, and God answered.
Paul finished setting up his mother’s snack while his mind raced to try to understand it. He hadn’t felt this curious and energized since he’d first met Nobody. Only instead of trying to figure out teleportation, he was trying to understand a being who, if he really, truly existed, would be so far beyond human understand as to be laughable to try. Except just like back when he first met Nobody, the place to go for answers remained the same.
Paul walked as if in a trance to his room. His mother had made a few changes over the years. But the old wooden nightstand remained. Paul hadn’t so much as looked inside since Bill died. The room had new carpet. The mattress and bed frame were new. While the nightstand was still there, surely its contents would have been emptied.
Paul’s hand shook as he reached for the drawer. He pulled it open, and there sat the Bible that Nobody had given him so many years ago.
“Why not replace this nightstand?” Paul wondered aloud. “Why is everything else here new?”
His mother hated things looking out of place. If she started working on something, she almost always finished. But in more than 10 years, she’d just never gotten around to replacing a simple night stand, and Paul had never even thought to look in it since Bill had died.
He lifted the Bible up and opened it. A slip of paper fell to the floor. Even as it floated to the ground, Paul let out a wry chuckle. He stared at the note as it lie on the carpet. He sat on his bed and reached down to pick the paper up.
Don’t just read it. Read it with an open heart. Ask Him to open your mind as you read. He is listening. Now it’s your turn.
P.S. I’m glad she’s feeling better, too.
Paul looked up from the paper. He didn’t see the tell-tale spot of water condensation anywhere, but the last part of the letter confirmed it was delivered that day. Paul felt the urge to call out to him, but Nobody wouldn’t be there. Nobody had never wanted Paul to listen to him; he wanted Paul to listen to God. Bill had wanted that, too.
Paul sat back on his bed and opened up the book. The first time he’d done it, he read it just to see what the big deal was about. But it was more an exercise in reading. This time, he’d read it again, and he’d read it hoping to understand a being he feared hated him.
… to be continued …