When my father came to Michigan in May, it was in a haste. In the middle of the night. He had a few hours to throw some things together for himself. He’s a simple man. He travels light like I do. And he always has. Necessity only.
When I travel, I take pens and paper. It wouldn’t matter where or why. I can’t leave these things behind or I am lost. They are my lifeline. My connection to every other part of me.
I can’t imagine my father ever writing while he was away from home. And I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen him reading a book. But, what each man considers Necessity is as unique to him as his own fingerprint.
As I unpacked his duffel bag at my home, I realized just how much of my mother he’d brought back with him. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know why he didn’t leave those things back at his home, a place he would eventually return to.
He’d brought her purse, as it had sat, frozen in time. Her tablet and phone. Family pictures. Her rosary. He brought her wedding ring and the band she wore with our birthstones for April and October. And he brought her copy of The Prophet. Which she always had with her. With a small, yellowed newsprint copy of The Serenity Prayer taped inside the back cover.
This tiny waterstained book has sat on my nightstand since May. A comfort of sorts. It reminded me of her because it was always near where she was. If you found her, you found The Prophet nearby. A few nights ago, I was struggling a bit. I saw the book sitting there in the lamplight and reached for it. On my back in my bed I cracked the covers and a small piece of torn paper fell out onto my chest. A makeshift bookmark that she’d used to mark a passage that was speaking to her.
Whenever she did it. Whatever the date or time. There was no way to know. There was no way to know what she was struggling with, or what was in her heart when she marked these pages long ago. What she wanted to remember. Whether she marked them tearfully. Or whether she was being reassured. I can’t know.
I know my mother had a lot of questions about her marriage to my father through the years. But, I also know he never intended to leave her behind. He made sure of it. His connection to every part of himself, he would be lost without his lifeline. No matter all his many faults, she was his one Necessity.
The pillars of the temple stand apart