Mister Hawk had left my room some time ago, but I still couldn’t move. I stood rooted to the spot as I was so horrified about myself and couldn’t stop thinking about his words. Did Father Michael really have such a bad time? Did he really cry over our child and also longed to hold her in his arms? And did I really have so much power over him, so that he actually would let me go to be near my child and forget my duty?
When I stepped through the door to his office the bright daylight that fell through the glass blinded me. The wonderful tapestry had been lifted upwards. Father Michael stood motionless at the door to my garden and looked out.
“Hello,” I said.
He winced at the sound of my voice and I saw him fumbling around in his face with his hands. Then he turned around and I realized what he just had done. He had wiped away the tears, which made his eyes still shine moistly and red spots were on his cheeks. With wide eyes the Father looked at me. He forced a smile, which only lasted for a brief moment.
“Michael, I…,” I began but couldn’t speak further. I didn’t know what to say. I was just so sorry. Carefully, I moved closer and looked up at him. “I don’t know what…,” I tried again, but suddenly tears welled up in my eyes and my voice failed me. Behind the moist veil I saw Father Michael coming up to me and raising his hands to my cheek.
“All is fine, Ada. You don’t need to say anything,” he whispered and let his thumb stroke over my skin.
His infinite understanding and kindness hit me unexpectedly like an avalanche. I burst out crying. Complete torrents streamed from my eyes and I sobbed uncontrollably. Father Michael pulled me into his arms and held me. I buried my face in the fabric of his cassock. I notice the smell of his eau de toilet and immediately felt back at home. That’s the place where I belonged: Father Michael’s arms.
My body shook with intense sobs, but I also felt him trembling. I threw my arms around him and stroked his back. I hugged him tighter. From both of us all grief and anger broke out, which had built up in the past few days.
We remained standing like that in the office for a long time and let our emotions run free. When we had calmed down, we let go of each other. I wiped away the tears from his face and he did the same for me. It was a simple gesture, but it was so full of affection. We both had to smile. It was something we hadn’t done for a long time and at first it felt strange, as if our facial muscles were rusty.
“Michael, I’m so sorry for everything that happened. I was so terribly selfish and heartless. I…,” I began to apologize.
But Father Michael put a finger on my lips and silenced me. “I know, Ada. I’m also sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you the comfort you would have needed. I’m sorry I was so cruel, when I wanted to make you eat. I was very rough and hard with you,” he said. Ashamed, he hung his head and shook his dark shock of hair. “Sometimes, I wished I could undo everything, so we can start over again,” he muttered.
“Michael,” I whispered his name. I wanted him to look at me, but he persistently refused to do so. So, I put a finger under his chin and raised his head, making him look at me. In his black eyes tears gleamed again. “You did everything right, Michael,” I assured him because that was the truth.
“I want to be there for you,” he breathed. I could hear that it was difficult for him to speak. After he had cleared his throat, he continued. “I want to help you, when you fall down. I want to warm you, when you’re cold. I want to dry your tears, when you cry. I only want to see you smile and never be sad. I’m here, when you need someone, who listens to you. When you’re scared, I want to protect you. And when you don’t feel well, I want to take care of you. I want to do all of that, because I love you but you have to allow it.” His words send a shiver down my spine and made me cry again. Desperately, I tried to fight the tears and I felt my lips tremble. Father Michael gripped my cheek and caressed it. “Maybe you learned to cope with everything alone in the past. But that’s impossible. Not always you can overcome things on your own. God brought us together, so that we can be there for each other. I want to help you, Ada. Do you want me to help you?”
I stared at him with wide eyes. My throat was dry and I was choked. I bit my lower lip, because it started to shake more violently. I could only answer his question by nodding, as I didn’t trust my voice. And then I couldn’t pull myself together anymore. I burst out crying again. This time the fit was so bad, my whole body convulsed and my legs turned into jelly. I was about to collapse, but then I felt strong arms, which wrapped themselves around me and kept me from falling to the ground. Lovingly, the Father held me and carried me over to his chair, where I could sit down. He helped me up, just like he had promised. And I wanted to do the same for him. I wanted to be there for him, just like he was there for me. That’s how it should be. That’s how it should have been from the beginning.