The words startled me, as they came from a man who appeared to look just like me.
I was in a room with a window on one side and a door on the opposite wall. The window looked out over a well-manicured lawn, and the trees cast long shadows from what appeared to be a setting sun. It looked as if it were the end of a warm October day.
The room itself was sparsely appointed, with a small table and two chairs. One of the chairs was occupied by what appeared to be my double, and he bade me to sit down.
"Who are you? Where am I?" I said.
"You are dreaming, and I am your guardian angel." he said, "and to prove it, permit me to tell you something you once said to yourself when you were all alone."
He mentioned something I had almost forgotten, that I had said while driving in a car years ago.
"Okay, I said that. But how do I know you are my angel? Why do you look so scarred and scratched?" I noticed as I spoke to him that he was covered with scars; most were small, but a few were huge. This man had seen a lot of punishment in his life.
"These are the scars I bore in your place. Here is where you would have been shot had someone not stopped you from riding down that street. Here are the scars which held the pins that would have held your forearm bones together after countless car wrecks you escaped." I can't show you the internal scars, but they are there. I just recently lost the yellow color of my skin from jaundice."
"Hepatitis B. Wear gloves at work, please. Sit down, too. You're straining my neck."
"Why did you say congratulations?"
"I wanted to congratulate on winning the lottery!"
"As far as I know, I did not win the lottery."
"Well, dadwithnoisykids, you did and you didn't. No, you did not buy a lottery ticket with the winning numbers. But yes, over the course of your life you will earn what amounts to a small fortune. So rejoice! You won the lottery!"
"I don't understand. Why are you telling me this?"
"Let me remind you of a mental exercise which you occasionally make - and," here he grinned, "I gave to you in a moment of inspiration:
"How many times have you asked yourself what you would do if you won the lottery? Remember the times when work was slow, and you worried about providing for your family? Remember how you promised yourself that you would slow down and take more time with your wife and children - if you won the lottery?"
"Well, it is time to realize that you have, in effect, won the lottery. And so it is time to make good with your promise to yourself to take better care of your family. Especially that wife of yours. Wow, what a woman. The Blessed Mother really likes her! You are holding the life of such a wonderful woman in your hands. And your children are such a blessing and joy to the world. Even your teenagers!"
"So dadwithnoisykids, I am here to tell you to start living now in a way to fulfill the promise you made. It's not too late-"
He stopped, seemed to look down at his hands, and then up to me, stopping to stare into my eyes.
"I have to go soon. There is one more thing I want to tell you, and God has permitted me to tell you this. You need to make a general confession, a good one, unlike your usual two-minute confession."
"Don't delay this or you will BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP -"
I swung my arm at him, striking the snooze button on my alarm clock. 5:15 a.m.