All Eight Floors
by Nancy Michalski
October 7, 2021
You have to be buzzed into this building so Anthony was relieved when a stranger with long hair and a beard wearing rumpled clothing held the door open for him. “The elevator is broken, follow me” he said to Anthony as he opens the door to the stairwell.
He looks homeless but has kind eyes and in Anthony’s desperation, he takes a chance. “I’m looking for heroin. I was told I could find it in this building.” “I’ll show you the way, walk with me.”
For some reason, Anthony is not afraid of this stranger. He continues to follow him and relax. Soon he will be free of the world that betrayed him. Free of all the physical and mental anguish. Free of his failures. Free of the guilt.
“Is this the floor” Anthony asks impatiently. “No, we must go up further but did you notice the windows on each landing? Look at the magnificent night sky, the stars, the heavens, the radiant light of hope, & the message in all of it.” “I used to care about that stuff.” replies Anthony. The stranger sees his eyes soften and the beautiful green color they turn as a tear comes to them. “Help me” pleads Anthony.” “Walk with me, please.”
“Do I know you?” asks Anthony “I know every hair on your head and you have known me all your life. I see there is not much in your wallet but you carry a prayer to St. Anthony.” “How can you see in my wallet? How do you know that”? Anthony is astonished “Saints keep their watch. Walk with me.”
Already knowing the answer, Anthony asks “My God, Is that you?” “I have so many broken places in my life. More than I can fix on my own. Will you help me? Can you ever forgive me?” God answers “No matter how far you have pulled away from me, I have always been with you. Nothing in life or death will separate you from me.”
“Confess your sins and I will cast out the unclean spirits and give you absolution. I will cure you of the addiction, the hunger, and the pain. No human life is immune from sin and from suffering. It is your destiny to be with God. I love you. I have called you by name and you are mine. For your life, I have died.” In his heart and soul, Anthony is sorry for every time, big or small, he turned from God and he is overwhelmed with joy from the forgiveness God is now blessing him with.
A bright and radiant light appears in the stairwell of the eighth floor. Even the stars in the window of the eighth floor landing are brighter, like reflections of everything he did right in life. Every act of kindness, all of his accomplishments, his family and loved ones, every heart felt prayer, every smile, every warm caring touch, every god given day without pain or anxiety, every sparkling wave as it gently met the shoreline, and in that moment, Anthony knew how precious he is and how much God loves him. “Leave your earthly human body and follow me into the light.” Anthony hesitates. “Wait, what about all the people I love? I want to be there for my daughter and so many people will grieve. It is not fair to them. “ “Yes, they will grieve, but I will bring them comfort and the angels and saints will always keep watch. I have died also for them. All those who are with Christ will have a new creation. Everything old will be made new.” An eye-opening calm comes over Anthony, a peace beyond all imagination, he is stronger than he has ever been as he follows Jesus Christ into the light.
∞ I dedicate this story to my son Anthony Olson Michalski who at the age of 33 died of a heroin/fentanyl overdose and was found in the eighth-floor stairwell of a high rise one town over from where he lived. He was 33 years old and just one week out of Stonington Institute Rehab. He left a beautiful daughter, Amelia who was 7 at the time, Amelia’s mom Heather, parents, a brother and many friends and relatives who when they think of him, time will stand still a moment, smiles and tears will come at the same time, and hearts will swell with love. ∞
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