Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, please look all around.
Something is missing that needs to be found.
Those are the words my mother would recite every time something was lost in our household. Except she’d replace the “something” with the name of the misplaced item: my homework, a favorite pair of shoes, or most often, the car keys. She’d finish off the request with a triumphant “Thank you, Saint Anthony,” always confident in her faithful patron saint of lost things.
Saint Anthony usually pulled through for her, too. With the exception of her engagement ring – and I’m sure he did his best with that one – I can’t remember a single time the requested item wasn’t found. And believe me when I tell you, we kept the poor guy busy.
Maybe it’s because my mom was such a spiritually keen woman. She was on a first-name basis with many saints and angels. Or maybe she just had that mother’s instinct, the sixth sense of knowing where something was without ever having seen it.
“That’s what mothers are for!” she would have sung at me upon finding something I’d lost. I’d just shake my head in disbelief, dumbfounded by her mom-magic.
The trouble is that not all lost things are meant to be found. And the thing I’ve lost now is my mother. Despite my prayers, all the patron saints and angels in heaven cannot help me.
When I was younger, mom once asked that if something was ever to happen to her, would I want her to come back as a shooting star or a rainbow? Perhaps even a budding rose? A question to which I’m pretty sure I responded that coming back from the dead in any form was going to scare the shit out of me, and she should probably just rest in peace.
So I guess you’d call it ironic that just four months after her death, I find myself constantly concentrating on the night sky, hoping to spot even the faintest star taking a dive.
Thus far, I haven’t seen one. Some nights I can’t see any stars at all.
But there are other times when I sense her presence without the help of stars and rainbows and fresh blooms. Like when I walk into a cafe that’s playing Paul Simon’s Graceland on repeat. Or when I find an old photo of her that’s fallen down the side of the fridge. Or even last night, when I grabbed a novel from my bedside table, hoping to finish it off before falling asleep, and in the final pages, it quotes the prayer to Saint Anthony.
And in those moments, I’m flooded with memories of her. Memories I’d completely forgotten. Memories worth more than shoes and homework and engagement rings and everything she and I have ever lost combined.
I have to believe it’s because of her. That somewhere not-so-far away, my mom is still calling on her old friend to find the things I’ve lost.
So thank you, Saint Anthony, for bringing her back to me.