(This is the telling of my soon-to-be-published book Hello, My Name is Phillip in serial format. Enjoy and get the word out. And, Happy New Year! Phillip and his mom have just gotten into the house at this point, after being dropped abruptly by Phillip’s dad. See chapter eight.)
She stood again, closing the door and locking it. Then she turned again to me and I looked up and there were tears in her eyes. Tears?
She knelt in front of me, again.
“Phillip. I’ve failed you. I’ve been remembering all the choices I’ve made. All the ways I have not been there. The times that my arguing and anger has pushed you away, scared you. I felt so sad when you ran away, Phillip. When you ran, I didn’t know what to do. I was so frightened. Daddy said, ‘He’ll be right back,’ but I didn’t think that was the case. Somehow, I felt like with the room, daddy’s choice to paint it the wrong color and not warn you, the argument, and the tension in the house you weren’t going to be right back.
“I ran into the storm. It was so intense I felt even more frightened for you, knowing how fear can trap you, how emotion can seem overwhelming to you. I called for you. I ran to the end of the driveway, all the way to the road. But I could not see you in either direction. So, I went back to the house, grabbed my purse, jumped into my car, and drove down the street. Still I didn’t see you. Phillip, fear filled my heart. And I prayed. I haven’t been very consistent at praying. But I prayed. I found myself praying and sobbing, uncontrollably, out loud there in the car, by myself.
“‘Lord Jesus, I don’t know what to do. I’ve failed Phillip and now he and Skye are on the run. They are out here in the storm, Jesus. I’m scared. I feel bad that I don’t talk more with you. I’ve used all kinds of things to fill the gaps that are in my heart. I’ve drunk. I’ve used anger. I’ve used other means. Tonight, I return to You. I’m a failure at being a mom and a wife. I’ve failed at following you. I’ve failed Phillip. I don’t know what to do now, but I turn this life, today, over to you. I’ve promised Phillip that he and I will paint his room. We will do that. I’ve already turned away from drinking ever since that awful night when Phillip was four and Michael and I both ran from one another. God, I’m. so. Sorry.’
“Phillip, driving down the street past the park, and beyond, I prayed and cried. I gave myself up. But I didn’t see you. I asked Jesus to protect you, to guard you, to send someone to help you, and to bring you to a place of safety. And when I heard what happened with Maggie, Phillip, I knew that was Jesus. He really did it. I think that is why I got so mad at daddy, when he wanted to dismiss all of it. I knew it had happened. Jesus really answered what I asked in a way I could never have asked for.
“So, Phillip,” She put her hands on my shoulders, and she looked into my eyes. “I just want you to know that I have repented to God. I know that I will fail again, I know that I will not be the best version of myself day by day, but I promise you this, I will ask forgiveness and I will seek to follow Jesus. Before we left the hospital, I found a Bible Storybook in the gift shop and bought it. I thought that we could begin to read some of the stories together. Would you like that?”
I couldn’t believe this was happening. That Jesus feeling, those waves of joy, were flowing over me. I nodded.
“Okay, my little man.” I liked it when the lady called me that. Her little man.
“We need to get ready for bed. But first let’s walk back to the bathroom, and pick things up and close and lock that window.” We did.
Then she said, “We will find a way to make you comfortable tonight. Daddy won’t be home tonight. Tomorrow, I promised you that we could paint that room of yours. We will get it back for you, you and I. Okay?”
I nodded at her again.
“And tomorrow also, I will call Maggie and we will work out a time for your first lesson in music. I haven’t heard you play yet but sounds like you have a gift.” We looked at one another for a moment. Then she stood, took me by the hand, and the lady and I walked out of the room. We turned off the light in that room and headed up the carpeted stairs. We went into the room where the lady and man slept.
She turned on the light, and said, “Here are some pajamas for you, Phillip. I found them in your dresser in your room, still covered with plastic. Are they the right ones for tonight?”
I looked at the crocodile and jungle designs on the blue background and remembered Grandma Faith had gotten them for me. I liked her. I nodded.
“Okay, then. You put them on and then you and Skye can have daddy’s side of the bed. That okay?”
I thought about sleeping where the man with the car normally slept. That bothered me a little, but he was not here, and Skye would be there. I was okay with that. I nodded.
“Alright. Go ahead and get into your pjs little man and let’s get to bed. It’s late for you and me both.”
We both got our pjs on—she was wearing a nightgown made of flannel. Then we crawled up into that high bed, Skye jumped up next to me, and before the lady turned off the light, she turned and said, “Let’s pray first, okay?”
Taking my hands in hers, she began to talk “Jesus, I’ve made lots of mistakes in this life, but one of my best choices is in the person whose hands I am now holding. Thank you for protecting Phillip and bringing him safely home and giving him a gift of music. Thank you for showing him such love. Jesus, I want to do better. Help me follow you. And help Phillip learn to trust me. I don’t deserve it, but I ask for it.”
After saying Amen, she tousled my hair and kissed my cheek and said, “I’m so glad you are home. I love you.”
With that she turned off the light. As the dark came, quickly—I really don’t like the dark—there was a joy in that dark that was palpable. Jesus was in the room. I was safe with this lady in the white house. And my life was being changed. Not everything was perfect, but Jesus had told me, these people were in my life for a reason and tonight I thought of something I had never, ever thought of before—that maybe, just maybe, I am in their lives for a reason too.
Skye crawled up to the top of the bed, near my pillow, and curled up against my chest and stomach, as I lay on my side. He let out the biggest breath like he too knew this was a good change. And with that I closed my eyes and fell asleep.