Kelly said goodbye to her closest friend, Donna, and climbed into her Dodge Caravan for the 10 minute ride home. She thought back over her conversations that night and smiled. Donna had a son the same age as the twins so there was a never ending supply of crazy toddler stories to compare. In addition, Donna’s husband Mark was almost identical to Brad in his demeanor and sense of humor so there was plenty of notes to compare there too. She drove home the way most people do when they have traveled the same route an infinite number of times; without paying much attention to the world around her all the while lost in her own thoughts.
As she approached her house she was startled to see, through the big picture window on the front of the house, the lights on in the living room and, because the blinds were still open, Brad pacing across the floor. It was unusual for him to still be downstairs at this hour. Normally he would be showered and in bed either, watching TV or pretending to sleep when in actuality he was waiting to make sure she got home safe. Something about the way he looked through the window made her uneasy. She immediately started to worry that something had gone wrong. Were the kids OK?! Did someone die?! She quickly parked the van and made her way into the house.
Upon entering her house, Kelly was greeted in the kitchen by her visibly agitated husband. He had a wild, frantic look in his eyes that scared her badly.
“Hi. How was your night?” Brad said, running all the words together and fidgeting +excessively as if he had had too many cups of coffee.
“Uh….good” Kelly replied as she became more concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, nothing…uh…uh…I…uh…had an…uh…interesting night. Brad said still in a frantic state.
“You’re scaring me. Are the kids OK?” Kelly was beginning to sound more and more desperate
“The kids are fine” Brad said as he paced the floor. “I just checked on them and their all fine”
“What is the matter with you? Are you OK? Did someone die?” Kelly could not figure out what would cause her normally laid back and reserved husband to act like a hyperactive 5 year old on a sugar high.
Brad replied in a rapid staccato voice that was so unlike him “No. No. No. Everything’s fine. At least I think its fine. What I mean is that no one is dead or anything like that, it’s just that I have to tell you something and I don’t think you’ll believe me at least I wouldn’t believe me if I were you but I swear that it’s true at least I think it’s true well at least I believe it’s true but I’m not really sure how to make you believe it.”
Brad had wandered into the living room during this frenzied monologue and Kelly warily followed him.
“What are you talking about!?” Kelly nearly shouted in an effort to calm her husband down and explain himself. “Please” She said grabbing a hold of both of his hands. “Sit down and tell me what’s going on.”
Brad was somewhat calmed by his wife’s touch and he let her gently guide him onto the couch. He took a deep breath and said “Ok. I don’t really know how to tell you this but…uh …I kind of had a…uh…visitor tonight.”
Kelly had always had an irrational fear that someday she would find out that Brad had been cheating on her so she immediately became suspicious. “Who was it?” she said a little too quickly
Brad, having known his wife for the better part of a dozen years knew exactly what she was thinking. “The visitor wasn’t female.” He replied with a hint of annoyance in his voice.
“Well then who was it?” Kelly said, now getting annoyed her self.
Brad stood up and resumed pacing anxiously around the room. “Here’s the thing. When I tell you this you won’t believe me. You’ll probably think that I’ve lost more than a coupe of marbles.”
Kelly watched her husbands face and realized that he had a look of…what was it…happiness?...satisfaction?…it confused her even more. “I’ll believe you. Just tell me.”
Each time Brad opened his mouth to tell his wife about the night’s events, he couldn’t bring himself to say the words out loud. They just sounded too crazy. He continued to pace back and forth and his mind formulated and then rejected each sentence until finally it felt as though his head was going to come apart. He turned to his wife and looked into her eyes. “It was God.” He blushed upon hearing the words out loud but he couldn’t keep the smile off of his face.
Kelly stared at her husband for a moment. She was sure that she misheard him. “Who?” She asked, sure that she didn’t understand or that it was someone that he thought she would know but didn’t.
“You’re going to make me say it again?” He said. “Ok…uh…it…it…w…was God. You know, God…The Almighty.”
Kelly looked at him for a moment in disbelief. She honestly couldn’t understand what he was talking about. Of all of the people that he could have said had visited him tonight there is no way she would have guessed this.
“What do you mean it was God?” She asked with genuine confusion.
“I mean that I sat here in this living room and had a conversation with God, Himself. Look I know that it sound crazy but it happened and I don’t mean that I sat in an empty room and talked to God and had some born again epiphany. I mean that I sat here in His presence. He sat in the recliner and I sat on the couch and He spoke to me. We had a dialogue. Back and forth. I asked Him questions and He answered. He asked me questions and I answered.” Now that he had told her the words came out in a rush. “He told me things about my life and about your life and about the bible and Jesus and religion and politics and and and everything it was amazing and weird and surreal and I know it was him because he knew things.” Brad had been staring at the picture window and the black night beyond it as he went through this diatribe. When he stopped to take a breath he turned and reluctantly looked at Kelly.
Kelly’s face was a mask of disbelief. Slowly the corners of her mouth turned upward as she realized Brad had to be pulling her leg. A moment later they turned downward again because this was not the type of joke that Brad would think was funny. He had carried it too far and he showed no signs of it being a gag.
Now it was Kelly’s turn to be unsure of what to say. She studied her husband’s face for any hint that he might be trying to pull her leg and she found none. He was serious. But he couldn’t be serious. This was just too bizarre. She tried to ask him more about it but she found that she had no idea how to go forward. Her mouth opened and closed like a fish out of water until she finally stopped, took a deep breath and said “Ok….Start from the beginning.”
Brad paced the floor as he told Kelly of the night’s bizarre events. He told her how God appeared out of nowhere and about the TV and the unnatural stillness to the air. He told her how he saw them on their honeymoon and that he was at his father’s funeral. Brad told her bout how his guest knew how they met and how his parents met and how He knew what Brad had prayed for the night before his father’s death.
Kelly listened to her husband intently. She was a rational woman by nature and she wanted to apply rationality to this situation as well. As he talked she became frightened that Brad had suffered a stroke or some other medical problem.
When his words began to dry up Brad looked anxiously at his wife. He had heard the words coming out of his mouth and he knew that they sounded fanatical but no matter how he tried he couldn’t make them sound any saner.
Now it was Kelly’s turn to stand up and begin pacing. She now believed that Brad believed what he was saying but she couldn’t make that particular leap of faith herself. As she worriedly crossed back and forth across the living room her mind raced to make sense of this while at the same time she tried to think if any of her friends new a good neurologist.
Brad saw the look on her face and disappointedly said “You don’t believe me.”
Kelly looked at him with mixture genuine love and genuine concern and said “Well…I believe that you believe it.”
At this, Brad’s whole body sagged as if a great weight had been thrown onto his back.
Kelly noticed this and immediately felt bad. She quickly said “Brad, you have to look at this from my perspective. I want to believe you but…what your describing ...it just doesn’t happen.” After a pause she added “Have you thought that maybe you might need to see a doctor? I mean isn’t it possible that this whole thing is just some kind of weird stroke?”
Brad new what Kelly was feeling. He had the same thoughts just a couple of hours ago and since the moment that he saw God in the hallway he had considered the very real possibility that he was sick. Even now there was a part of him that held onto that option. He almost wanted it to be an invention of his damaged mind because the alternative was almost too big to comprehend.
Brad took a deep breath to calm himself down. He new his only chance to convince his wife that what he was saying was true was to appear as rational and as normal as possible and up to this point, he realized, he has sounded like a raving lunatic.
When he had calmed himself as much as possible he sat down on the edge of his recliner and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. He rubbed his face with his hands and collected his thoughts. This time when he spoke it was in a slow measured cadence. His voice sounded tired but satisfied. “Look…I know that this sounds…oh, I don’t know…delusional but I can tell you that I believe what I am telling you and believe me I have considered the very real possibility that I am having some sort of neurological breakdown.” He paused and then continued “But here’s the thing…I know…in my heart that God was in this house tonight. I can still feel the heat from the sun in Aruba…I can still smell the funeral home where my Dad was waked. I can still hear God’s voice…He was here…I know it.”
Kelly, once again, searched her husbands face for any sign that he may be kidding. He stared back into her eyes and, after several seconds, she resigned herself to the idea that her husband was sharing with her what he believed to be true and it scared her badly.
“Monday” She began “I am going to get you an appointment to see a neurologist and then I’ll call my sister and see if she can give us the phone number of the psychiatrist that she went to a few years back.”
“You don’t understand!” Brad nearly shouted, beginning to get angry. “I don’t need to see a doctor and there is nothing wrong with my mental health! What I need from you is to help me figure out how to do what He asked.” Brad was becoming increasingly frustrated, not only by his wife’s refusal to believe him but also at his own inability to convince her.
Kelly cautiously said “Look… I know that something is going on here” she paused and then continued “But I’m not sure that either one of us knows exactly what. So what I’m suggesting is that before you go on a religious crusade you should eliminate the possibility that there are other, more rational, things going on.” She quickly added “Now if the doctors decide that there is nothing physically or mentally wrong with you then…..” She let the sentence trail off and then looked at Brad for his reaction.
Brad went through a rapid succession of emotions that were reflected on his face. He went from anger to hurt to frustration until he settled on resignation. He now realized that the only way to make her believe in him was to do exactly as she asked. And as he thought about it more and more it seemed like a smart thing to do. After all there still was a part of him that held on to the idea that he was unwell.
He suddenly felt exhausted. The night’s events had physically and emotionally drained him. His shoulders slumped and he sat down hard on the couch. He rubbed his tired eyes and softly said “Ok. Make the calls but do it quickly because I want to get it over with.”
Kelly sat next to her husband and put her arm around him. She pulled his head toward her and rested her own head against it. They sat temple to temple for a couple of minutes both lost in there own thoughts.
Kelly finally whispered “C’mon…let’s go to bed.”
Brad let her guide him upstairs where he distractedly changed into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He brushed his teeth without really being aware that he was doing it and then fell into bed. He was sure that he would fall asleep instantly but he found himself awake for quite some time.
Kelly watched her husband, almost catatonically, get ready for bed. She felt a strange mixture of concern, anxiousness and sadness. Unlike her husband she knew that it would be a long time before she slept.