I made my way slowly through the aisles with purpose, though what purpose I wasn’t sure. My eyes took in letters which made up words, clothed in different colors. I was the hunter with no idea of my prey though I was certain it would be made clear in that moment when I happened upon it. I would get the familiar rush of adrenaline as I readied myself to pounce on my unsuspecting victim. It was a quest I was all too familiar with though today’s pursuit felt different.
It was the twenty-third anniversary of my dad’s death and this year’s approach was one of distraction. The family decided a trip to the bookstore was in order. Through the years, I’ve tried staying busy, clearing my schedule, looking through old photos, shopping. You name it, I’ve tested it. What I’ve grasped is that it is an emotional day no matter what I’m doing. The truth is the only thing that makes this day different from any other is the memories of what transpired on October 1st, 1993. Otherwise, my dad is a part of my every day, my every decision. I was only twenty-two when he died so this year seems notably strange given he’s been gone longer than he was with me.
I felt a bit out of sorts as I distractedly glanced at the books the kids presented me, paying special attention to the ones that elicited just the amount of enthusiasm I had spent years cultivating since the first time I brought them to story time as toddlers. I love seeing them take a photo of a book cover so they can remember it next time given my rule – one book purchase per visit. They know I’m a sucker when it comes to books and will often break that rule, particularly on days when I can’t decide between two titles. As their small fingers pinched spines and slid each book from its place between two others who held up that moment’s chosen one, I wondered what drew them to it. Was it the title, the font, the color or just an inner pull they couldn’t deny? That pull was one I was all too familiar with having surrendered to it numerous times in my life.
The involuntary reach for a book in a section I wouldn’t normally peruse or the compulsion to hold a certain book, gently run my fingers over the front cover, tracing each letter, before setting it back down is an urgency that borders on the sensual for me. I am at peace surrounded by the creations of those who have filled the pages bound before me, which is why I was completely mindful today’s visit was no coincidence. My loved ones know this as my happy place and commandeered today’s schedule to bring me here. And yet, today lacked the peace I searched for as I wandered the aisles, glancing at titles. My children’s running commentary blending with the store’s music selection and the sounds of espresso machines not quite drowning out the occasional “shhhh” from parents in the midst of teaching their child the proper bookstore etiquette made me long for the sanctuary of my bedsheets before my mind registered today’s date.
Like a drifter, I continued to travel the aisles with no definitive direction to my journey. As I turned a corner I noticed a single book out-of-place. It wasn’t the color that made it stand out or even its nondescript cover but the fact that it was the only book on the shelf not tucked in between others. Rather, its cover faced forward, propped against a row of titled spines. There was that pull again, that involuntary draw, that urgency to reach for it.
White block letters on a cloudy gray background, “PLEASEFINDTHIS” – no spaces, all caps.
Black cursive – I wrote this for You and only You
Back cover: I NEED YOU TO UNDERSTAND SOMETHING. I WROTE THIS FOR YOU. I WROTE THIS FOR YOU AND ONLY YOU. EVERYONE ELSE WHO READS IT, DOESN’T GET IT. THEY MAY THINK THEY GET IT, BUT THEY DON’T. THIS IS THE SIGN YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR. YOU WERE MEANT TO READ THESE WORDS.
My first thought was, “This author has grabbed my attention with only a title, leading me to reach for the book, flipping it over to read the description. Who is this genius?”
Pages flip as my hold tightens. I come to rest on page 48, titled, The Place I Do Not Rest.
“Dress your heart and mind in what you love, fill your eyes with wonder and chase the things that inspire and delight you. For in you, is where I still live.”
“Mom, did you find something?”
Yes. I sure did.