Sometimes, there are chance encounters that are so random, you can’t help but be convinced that it’s fate. Most would agree that this touching story of a reunion nearly three decades in the making is just that. While on a normal patrol, New Jersey state trooper Michael Patterson stopped a white BMW for a minor traffic violation. After going through the regular protocol, him and the driver, Matthew Bailly, a former police officer in Patterson’s hometown of Piscataway, started chatting.
Small talk about some of the officers they both knew, and the places in Piscataway they were both familiar with, soon turned into a conversation about the street on which Patterson grew up, Poe Place. Turns out Bailly remembered the street well because he helped to deliver a baby in a house there nearly 27 years ago. The baby’s name? Michael.
According to this Facebook post, the two started to connect the dots. Back in 1991, Bailly was called to help a woman who had suddenly gone into labor while shopping. Once she was rushed back home, Bailly was there to help, listening to instructions from a doctor on the phone and helping to deliver her baby.
“My mom tells that story once a year on my birthday,” Patterson told PEOPLE. “Every single year!”
After Bailly retold this story, 26-year-old Patterson quickly realized who he had pulled over.
“I’m thinking, where is this going? So I asked him how long ago he delivered the baby, and he said it was going back around 27 years,” Patterson says. “Then he went as far as describing the house I grew up in… Then he said the baby’s name was Michael.”
The two couldn’t have been more thrilled to be reunited and, after exchanging contact information, Patterson told his mother what had just happened.
“She was completely floored, completely awestruck,” Patterson says. “It was a good time for every single member of my family, being a part of an experience that’s so unlikely. It happens maybe once in a lifetime.”
Obviously, Patterson didn’t end up ticketing Bailly. After this act of fate, Patterson and his mom met with Bailly and his wife, and they caught up on the 27 years that had gone by since that special day Michael was born.
“It feels awesome, I believe it was a divine encounter, I definitely think it was purposeful for us to meet back up,” Patterson says. “I’m going to hold on to this relationship.”