We sat on the floor of the balcony going through the suitcase. Piles of neatly folded clothes began to accumulate around us.
“Here is her Bible.” Monique held a paisley covered book.
I glanced up. “She kept the world in between the pages, go ahead and open it.”
Monique carefully unzipped the cover, taking care not to catch the zipper on protruding pages. She held the Bible up so that the sunlight beaming through the upper windows highlighted the book and contents. Papers and cards immediately fluttered to the floor.
”Oh.” said Monique.
“I told you – her world just fell in your lap.”
Monique picked up a clipping from the pile. “Look daddy, she clipped out my graduation announcement,” Monique laughed, “it’s in French.”
“She couldn’t read a word of French.” We both chuckled at the thought of Margaret clipping the announcement based on the fact that Monique’s name was listed. “We are lucky you weren’t arrested for arguing with a vendor, your mother would have had a clipping of that in the Bible too.”
Monique thumbed through the small pile, now on the floor. “Little pictures. Who are they?”
I picked up one of the photos. “I think they are some of the children at the center where she worked.”
“Believe so, she loved the kids.” I handed the photo back to Monique. “What else you got there?”
“Well, stuck here in the pocket is a bunch of postcards, all of them addressed, only a few of them with messages.”
“Hmmm, I probably ought to just save those somewhere.” Monique handed me the stack.
“Daddy, look at all these book marks in her Bible.” Monique cracked the Bible to the first mark. “Jeremiah thirty one, three, ‘Yea I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’” She handed the Bible to me.
I turned to a mark in the back of the Bible. “She marked first John, several places are underlined, ‘We love him because he first loved us.’ That’s verse nineteen of chapter four. She also noted four, ten, ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’”
“I think it means a sacrifice.” I closed the Bible and handed it back to my daughter. Monique was lost in thought.
“Do you think that mama knew that we, you and I, would need to think of God’s love sometime, you know, without her.”
“I don’t know kitten, but that is what I would like to believe. This Bible, these bookmarked verses -- sort a postcard, isn’t it?” I started to put clothing back into the suitcase. “You know, when I came here, the man you met called Maurice, said I had to join them on the basis of God’s love and not hate. I think I am beginning to understand what he meant.”
“Maurice is the big guy right? He and a man named Jacques brought me to the mission where you were staying. They talked the whole trip about working for the Lord, about the changes, about a new church, about a battle, but I thought that was just all church talk.”
“Something tells me that your mother’s Bible is a powerful message to us. “
Monique opened the Bible one more time. “She marked Psalm nine, nine, ‘The Lord also will be refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.’ Daddy….” Her eyes clouded over and I saw a tear roll down her cheek. “Daddy….”
I reached over and pulled my daughter to my shoulder.
Monique and I were sitting on the balcony of a large chalet somewhere in Northern Spain. Neither of us knew why. For the first time in my life, I was scared, and I could tell that Monique was too.
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