(Welcome to the final chapter of this serial release of my book Hello, My Name is Phillip, copyright Brian Shimer 2021, All Rights Reserved do not copy or print. Click here to order your own copy. I hope you have enjoyed this story. Do share it with others.)
I lean into dad as he reads. I like the name better and better. He places an arm around me and says, “It’s bedtime little buddy.” I’d love for him to keep reading. I love the sound of his voice, the sound of his heart beating away and of his breathing. It is comforting. Once in bed he kisses my forehead and says, “You know. I am sorry for missing so many years of your life because I was caught up in my own anger and hurt and hate. Also, I’m so sorry for the pain and hurt I have caused you. I just want you to know, there is not a day goes by that I don’t recall it. Please forgive me.”
“Fooooooorrrrrgiiiiiiiveeeeeen,” I say, with difficulty.
“Okay. Now I am crying. Wow. You are learning to speak. I love you Phillip. I love you,” he says through tears, and hugs me again and kisses my cheek.
Tuesday morning, at breakfast, dad and mom talk about putting together a few concerts for winter at various city locations.
“People need encouragement during the winter,” Dad tells mom. “Phillip, you have the gifts to bring that encouragement.”
I smile. This is a different family. Everything tastes better with love.
We eat together, then dad leaves for his program and mom drives me to school. As we travel, she tells me, “Remember, Jesus never leaves you. You are going to make it.”
The surprise awaits me as we drive up. It is a cold and rainy morning, but I can’t believe what I see. Right at the curb stands Peggy! Peggy, the one who bullied me my first day, and was so impacted at the assembly and concert. She stands there waving, in a bulky yellow rain slicker, and yellow boots. But the most amazing thing, my entire class stands there behind her, along with other kids from the school. I spot Frederick, Julie’s older brother.
“Phillip! Look at this!” mom says as we pull up to the curb. She’s crying.
I hug mom, a smile cracking my face, and then get out. Mom rolls down the window to watch and listen. Everyone cheers. Mrs. Olson is standing at the back of the group.
Peggy says, “Welcome to school Phillip! I talked to the principal early this morning and asked if this was okay with her. She gave us permission, so I rallied Mrs. Olson to gather the class. Others heard what we were doing and wanted to join in too. Everyone was eager to be here. You got this, dude!”
Does she know Kevin used to say that? Or did Jesus just direct her? I give her a hug and then stand amazed as everyone claps and claps and claps. We all walk into the school together. Everyone laughing, talking, yelling, and some still clapping. Peggy turns down her hallway, shouting to me, “I’ll see you at recess.”
In the classroom we take our desks. It is hard to settle down. I almost feel guilty being at school and feeling such joy but then I hear Kevin’s voice inside me saying, “Dude! You got this!” and I know it is going to be okay. Oh, and if you and I meet up at one of the concerts or riding horseback with Nana, just so you know, you can call me Phillip.