He must have stood on the pier, Stephen did.
It’s where they all leave from.
When he stood there, did he stand with his hands in his pockets. Or were his hands full of satchel or rucksack and everything he had, everything, for a journey he would not return from.
Did he stare back at his home while he waited for his boat. Ingraining every detail he already knew, as it was embedded in the very cells of his body. But did he look, because he knew he wouldn’t look at it again.
Or did he keep his back to the past and look forward to the future. Gazing into what he dreamed and imagined.
Did he stand there alone. Or did family go, to spend every last moment they could with him. Did he stand there as a lone traveler, or were there a group of them going out together, taking comfort in someone familiar.
Did he leave eagerly.
Did he leave fearfully.
Did he leave hesitantly but with a nervous energy.
Surely he knew, or didn’t he, that he would never return. Here.
Was home too small and confining. Did he know everything on it. Did he see sameness every day.
Was home too safe and comfortable. Did he leave it to help others. Did he dread never seeing it again.
Was the wind blowing, or softly whispering by his ear. Did he smell the turf burning. Did he have warm tea for one last time, sitting at the table, or standing by the fireplace, at home.
Did he ever imagine that when he left Ireland he would go to America and create a family that grows to this day. And will grow beyond this day.
Did he ever hope that his son, or his son, or his daughter…would venture back to Ireland.
To try and capture his world.
Step up on to that pier, and see all that there is. Stand at his own father’s grave and recite a prayer. Stand in the doorway of his very own home, and imagine it when he was there. Walk the very paths he must have trod a million steps.
Where Stephen left.