September 12th 2016
Today I took my chain off for the first time in a year. (Please note that this story is technically from yesterday but I forgot so I’m telling it today, okay?)
I’ve worn this chain every day since my Nan gave it to me 13 months ago. It depicts St. Christopher, the patron saint of travellers. She gave it to me just before I left the country for three months to travel around Europe with Alice.
I was playing football today, and the referee called me over and asked me to take it off. Knowing better than to cause a scene, I obliged, and took it off. I tried to hand it to him for safe keeping but he refused it. I had to tuck it into my sock and hope that it didn’t get lost. If it had fell out of my sock and onto the grass I would’ve combed every blade until I found it again. It means a lot to me.
When my Nan died earlier this year I paraphrased a line from St. Christopher’s prayer in a card that went in her casket.
“Around my neck, and in my heart, protect me today, in all my travels along the way.”
I am not a religious man. I do not keep the chain on for any spiritual reasons. I do not pray often, and I do not believe in a traditional God. But St Christopher comforts me. Someone once told me that I shouldn’t wear a holy symbol if I am not religious. But I disagree, because it’s not a symbol of God or a symbol of faith. It’s a connection to my Nan and until today, as far as I can remember, it had never left my neck.
During the game I had to keep checking that it was still in my sock. I’d bend down and try to feel the lump it made against my calfs.
Fortunately, when the full time whistle blew I took my sock off and it was still there. I breathed deeply in relief.
I don’t believe in luck, or fate, or faith. But the chain is probably my most sacred possession. That, and an Onyx ring that has descended from my great-grandfather to my dad, to me. My Dad actually left that ring in Florida once. We got home from a holiday and he realised that he didn’t have it. He flipped out and phoned every one possible to try and retrieve it. In the end the cleaner at the villa found it, and sent it back home to us. I can’t imagine how I’d’ve reacted if I’d lost this chain. But you can bet that I wouldn’t have gone home until I’d found it.
I took that ring with me to every exam I’ve ever sat – with one exception. The one exception was my second year of University Probability exam, which is incidentally the only exam I’ve ever failed. Like I said, I don’t believe in fate or luck, but I believe in coincidence.
Why did I keep taking the ring if I don’t believe in luck? For the same reason that I continue to wear the necklace. For that familial connection. So that I don’t ever feel alone.
Until tomorrow, protect me today.