Mercy and Grace
My nephew Michael was not quite three years old at the time this event took place. I was working on a new story and he was just being a little boy having fun. He would climb up on the fireplace hearth and with a squeal he would jump off in a giggling display of delight. As I watched his acrobatics I noticed him becoming more and more daring. Each landing was more unstable and unsure so it was time for Uncle Mike to say the necessary word that all children dread.
“Hey Hot Rod, come here for a minute will ya?”
“Okay Um Mike.”
“I know you’re having a lot of fun jumping off the fireplace but I think you might get hurt if you keep it up, so if you’ll give me just a few more minutes to finish this we’ll go to Discovery Zone and play together as long as you want. Is that cool?”
“Oh boy Um Mike!”
“Okay now, don’t jump any more please.”
Michael, affirming my request with a nod, patiently waited about thirty seconds, and with another giggle the little daredevil jumped off the hearth again.
“Michael, come here please”, I requested in a firmer tone.
“Didn’t I ask you not to jump off the fireplace any more?”
“Didn’t I say I thought you might get hurt if you kept doing it?”
“How much do I love you Michael?”
With arms outstretched as far as he could reach Michael replied;
“You Yove me THIIIIIIISSS MUCH!!!”
“I love you a whole lot more than that even! I love you more than ANYTHING in the whole wide world, and because I love you, I don’t want you to get hurt, so now I’m telling you not to jump off the fireplace anymore okay? I’m almost finished with this and then we’ll go to Discovery Zone.”
“Okay Um Mike.”
With an attention span of about thirty seconds longer than the first episode, I watched Michael climb up on the hearth and leap for joy once again, only this time what I had expected actually happened. When he hit the ground his feet slipped from under him and Michael landed right on his elbow. He let out a scream and I immediately hit my knees and opened my arms for him to come to me. I knee-walked over to him and said;
“Michael come here! I want to see if you’re all right!”
Tears streaming down his face he nodded “no” and I knew instantly that even in his terrible pain, Michael was too ashamed to let me attend to him.
“Michael…I love you! Please let me see if you’re all right! Just let me hold you okay?”
Well that was all it took. Michael knew that he had disobeyed me and the guilt he was experiencing deceived him into thinking that I was angry at him and didn’t love him anymore, but at the sound of those three words he bolted into my arms and buried his face in my neck and sobbed all the condemnation away. I did not say a word. I just held him and loved him.
When Michael pulled away at his own initiative, as I wiped the tears from his eyes I asked;
“Are you okay now? Let me see your elbow Hot Rod.”
He showed me his right arm and just as I suspected, his elbow was reddening and already swelling a bit. He had hit really hard and I knew he was in a great deal of pain. I rubbed his elbow gently and in a short time the pain subsided. That is when the excitement really began.
“Are you feeling better now Michael?” I softly asked.
“Yeah Um Mike, but I not NEVER gonna do that again! Dat hurt! I coulda got kilt!”
“Well maybe not kilt. Are you feeling better?”
“Uh huh; you made it better Um Mike.”
“Well do you still think we should go to Discovery Zone?”
“Uh uh, not now.”
“Because I didn’t mind you.”
“Well that’s all over now and besides that; I think you learned a pretty good lesson from this so go get your shoes. We’re going to Discovery Zone and play until they close. How ‘bout that?”
With eyes that just sparkled he jumped into my arms again and throwing his arms around my neck he shouted with excitement; “I YOVE YOU UM MIKE!”
“I know you do Hot Rod. I LOVE YOU TOO! Now go get your shoes and let’s go have FUN!”
The next five hours went way too fast, so after Discovery Zone closed we went to the Copper Caboose and three hours later we drove back home, two very tired but exuberantly happy best friends. That was almost fifteen years ago and we’re still best friends. Nothing will or could ever change that.
And we still play when we can.
For Michael! Love always!
September 16th 2008