She knew right away who he was. With his tall, slim stature and his blond hair and blue eyes, she couldn't get over how much he looked like his father. And yet, his eyes were so very different. In them was warmth, love...humanity.

"Mother!" the young man exclaimed as he approached her. When she recalled the premature and grossly malformed stillborn infant she had delivered, she could only gaze in wonder at what he had become. It was truly a miracle.

"My son!" she cried with joy, embracing him.

"I saw what you did. That was such a brave thing," he said, a little shyly.

"I obeyed God's will," she said serenely.

"Did you suffer much, Mother?"

She shook her head. "I saw the fire as Fortunato summoned it forth, and the next thing I knew, I was standing right here in this place." They began to walk arm in arm down the street of gold.

"Please, will you tell me about my father?" the young man pressed gently.

Pain flickered across her face for just a minute, then was gone.

"Is it true that he really is the most evil man who ever existed?"

She nodded. "He killed you in his attempt to kill me. He's killed millions of innocent people, and will kill many more before his time comes to an end."

"And yet, he's my father...why?" The young man's eyes had a haunted look.

She sighed. "It was God's will, son. It's not for us to question it."

"But did he choose to be so evil, or was it predestined?"

She chose her words carefully.

"It was predestined that there would be an antichrist, yes. Was it a calling in the sense of a destiny he had to fulfill? To be honest, I just don't know. God loves all and wants everyone to come to repentance, so that had to have included your father at some point. Was he given the chance to accept or refuse God's offer of salvation? Son, I have to believe that he was. I can't believe that God would create anyone solely for the purpose of sending him to hell without offering him the opportunity to choose salvation at least once in his life."

"But it's too late for him now, isn't it?"

She nodded sadly.

"At what point did it become too late for him?"

"At the point where he chose darkness over light, power over submission, greed over humility, hatred over love."

"I don't understand, Mother. How could anyone choose hatred over love?"

"You've never experienced life on earth, son. You don't know the power of the temptation which the evil one uses to lure mankind to the side of darkness."

Literally born into eternal life in heaven, just as the raptured newborns and pre-borns had been, her son would never know the struggle to overcome the forces from both inside and outside that sought to master the human soul. He would never know anything but peace, love, harmony, and acceptance. In a way, she envied him.

The young man viewed the woman beside him with awe, wonder, admiration, and pity. As his earthly mother, she had been the origin of his existence; if not for her, he never would have been. He wondered what it would have been like to have been born alive and to have grown up on earth as a little boy with her as his mother, rather than meeting her for the first time as an adult.

Earth was a place of much pain, sorrow, and suffering, he knew; yet he couldn't help but be somewhat curious about it, as well as about the horribly wicked being who had been his earthly father, who had contributed equally to his short material existence.