Not Just Any Bible
by Jennifer Romero
I hold the study Bible given to me by my mentor and dear friend, Crawford, over 10 years ago. I hold my nose to the thick chunk of pages that are lined in gold. I take a deep breath in and bask in all of the joyful memories the smell of it brings me back to. I do this quite often, especially when I am yearning for my friend and the wonderful times we had.
It was 1998 when I met Crawford. My first son was just three years old, and I was six months pregnant with my second. I lived in an apartment building that had a recreation room that I passed through often. It was actually the only way to access my third floor apartment from the parking garage in the lower level.
One Saturday morning I was heading for the rec room from the garage, holding onto my son with one hand and three bags of groceries with the other. Fatigued from carrying groceries and a baby in my belly, I stopped to rest at the top of the stairs. I looked up and found myself staring into the faces of a group of people engaged in a Bible study. Awkward and uncomfortable embarrassment overwhelmed me. It was silent and everyone was staring at me. There was nowhere to go except through a small path to another set of stairs that would lead me to my apartment.
I apologized for the interruption, even though I knew it was a community room and many people passed through it. The leader of the group, Crawford, was gracious enough to stop his teaching and help me to my apartment with the grocery bags. The groceries were not the only thing weighing me down that day, as I was carrying a large burden on my shoulders. He invited me to his Bible study, but I declined and asked for a rain check. He told me that the group meets every Saturday at 9:00 and they would love to have me join them.
For the next three years I spent almost every Saturday in that rec room getting to know Crawford and his group. On separate occasions, he would meet with me on a one-on-one basis to disciple and counsel me. I was going through one of the toughest times in my life, and he was there when I needed him. He listened to me and guided me. He never judged me, questioned me or belittled me. He just plain loved and accepted me for who I was.
Crawford passed away on November 20, 2007 at the age of 51 after fighting a ten-year battle with an incurable neurological disease. A big part of me died that day too. I am thankful for the years I had with my precious friend.
I read the beautiful inscription he wrote just for me on the inside of the Bible he gave me for Christmas back in 2001. This is not just any Bible. Those words, and the smell of that Bible, bring me back to the fond memories I long for. When I am hungry to remember, the smell of that book feeds both my memory and my heart.