Wednesday, March 12, 1997

A Peculiar Visit - The Nutshell

A dear friend of mine lost her husband recently. They were not married for very long but they were very much in love. I was just beginning to get to know this fine young man. We spoke on the phone often and had started to correspond through the mail. I wanted so much to meet this man and my friend wanted very much for me to meet her husband. But this tragedy has, if not prevented it, postponed it for some time... my optimistic guess: about 70 years. In an attempt to resolve the loss for myself and to offer some comfort to my friend that her husband is well and no longer dealing with the struggles and pains of mortality, I wrote the following story. In my own way, I did get to meet him. Some names have been changed.

Joseph waited at the gate for what seemed a long while... He had forgotten that time really meant nothing in this dimension. Though everyone here was busy at work... There were things that needed to be done, things that needed to be resolved, questions to ask, things to learn.

An angel approached the gate and stared at Joseph for a moment. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I'm here to ask some questions," Joseph responded.

"You're not due here for..." The angel checked his clipboard, "At least another seventy of your years."

Joseph was pleasantly stunned. "Seventy, eh. Hmmm."

"Don't tell anyone I told you."

"You're secret's safe with me... Now, I've got some questions."

"You've got the answers at home... why don't you just read the instruction manual."

"Instruction manual?"

"Yeah... Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth... With supplements, you might recall."

Joseph thought about the unusual title... then he pieced the Initials together B.I.B.L.E. "Oh... These aren't those kind of questions... they're a little more personal."

"You know you're not supposed to be here."

"Yeah, I know."

"So..." the angel started to get frustrated, "Why are you?"

"I'm not sure, really... But I know I can't stay. This is just a temporary visit."

The angel was hesitant, then looked around and said, "Okay... but I can't let you out of my site."

"I understand."

"And you can't interfere with the others... they've got work to do."

"I know... I just need to talk to one person."

"Alright, then." The angel opened the gate and let Joseph in.

As he entered the gates, Joseph saw countless spirits that he couldn't see before. More people than he could ever imagine... and he marveled at the amount of work that had to be done for each and every one of them. He knew where he had to go. He wasn't quite sure how he knew, but he knew nonetheless. As they walked through this spirit world, Joseph and his angel escort bumped into countless spirits. Some were surprised to see Joseph there, others figured he had his reasons.

"Joseph?" said a familiar, yet distant voice. Joseph turned around and searched the crowd until he saw a warm gentle face that he hadn't seen in years, though he was now young and lively and not the frail old man he had seen in a hospital room years ago. "Joseph," the sweet spirit of his grandfather said again.

"Chencho," said Joseph.

"How are you, son?"

"I'm fine..."

"Excuse me," said the angel. "You said only one person... is he the one?"

"No," Joseph apologized and looked to his grandfather pleadingly.

"I understand, Joseph... Listen, when you get back, tell Bobby I'm ready."

"I will grandpa."

The angel hurried Joseph through the crowd. "You realize that was my grandfather back there?" said Joseph.

"I know, but you'll have plenty of time to talk with him later."

"I know."


"He's in here," said the angel.

Joseph waited for a moment and then knew for himself. "I know," he said. "How long?"

The angel looked at him and said, "Take your time... so to speak," and smiled.

Joseph walked through the room. It was for new arrivals. It was a beautiful and gentle place. Much like the rest of the spirit world. It was free of all pain and suffering. People smiled kindly at Joseph as he walked among them... then Joseph saw who he came to see sitting on a cushioned bench reading a book. Joseph approached him and said, "You're not as tall as I had imagined."

Justin looked up to Joseph and smiled... then stood up and looked down at his friend, "How about now?"

"So this is what you looked like to her... How are you?"

"I'm doing okay... How's Ashley?"

"She's doing alright... She's a very strong woman, you know."

"Yeah... I know. This isn't exactly how I expected us to meet."

"Me neither."

"How did you manage to come and see me?"

"Apparently I've got more connections than I thought I had," Joseph quipped.

Justin smiled... a smile Joseph had seen only in photographs. "I didn't mean for this to happen."

"I know... you don't have to explain."

"I'm glad you and I became friends."

"So am I."

"I know how you felt before we got to know each other. It's okay. I would have probably felt the same way," Justin snickered.

"We've got a lot in common, you and me."

"Yeah, I know."

"Tell me about yourself..." Joseph sat down on the bench and Justin sat with him. They talked for what seemed to be a long time. They learned about each other. They got to know each other. They became friends and agreed to continue that friendship into the eternities.

"I'm sorry," said the angel, "But it's time to go."

Joseph looked to his escort and said, "Alright... just let me say goodbye." The angel stepped away and Joseph shook Justin's hand, "Is there anything you want me to tell Ashley?"

Justin thought for a moment, then said, "Tell her that I love her."

These two friends embraced each other and Joseph left with the angel. As He escorted Joseph outside the gate, the angel said, "You realize this is not Standard Operating Procedure?"

"Of course."

"You two must be pretty special... You and Justin."

"You could say that."

"Take care, Joseph... I'll see you in about..." the angel started to check his clipboard again.

"...About seventy years?"

The angel smiled, "Yeah... give or take..."

the end

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