I started a five year journal (this one) in May 2014 (on E’s third birthday). I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage the pressure of a “full” diary (I’ve tried multiple times and, except for travel diaries, always get bogged down after a few weeks), but I also knew I wanted something a bit more quotidian than this blog or the notebook where I write down E’s milestones and witty sayings.
This particular journal was perfect- even if I miss a day or two (or a week, as has happened), I am always able to go back and reconstruct what happened in enough detail for an entry.
I don’t have a single blank day. And, for close to two years, the journal entries are a mix of notes about E., my PhD, places we went, things we did, dinners we ate, books I read, etc. Just ordinary days in an ordinary life.
I didn’t know, of course, that 2016 was going to happen.
Here’s the thing: my journal preserves memories that I wouldn’t otherwise have. I usually reread the entries for that particular day from previous years and there have been many occasions where the entry has triggered a flood of memories about a day or an event that up until that moment I would have said I’d forgotten about completely.
So I don’t know that I would remember that particular sliding outing at E’s school with my Dad, or that lunch with my stepfather on the patio with the waitress who messed up all of our orders without the prompt of the journal entry.
The entries are nothing special. I didn’t know, of course, that those visits would turn out to be the last visits. I thought we had years left.
There is a stark contrast in the journal between the entries I made before my father’s accident and those that come afterwards. Rereading is physically painful. I don’t recognize the woman who made the entries in 2014 and 2015 or the life that she was living.
I’m hoping that one day I’ll be glad to have those ordinary visits preserved in more than just my memory.
Right now I feel like I never want to touch this journal again once it’s full.
Would you want the memories of those last ordinary days, or would it hurt too much to be reminded of what you had lost?
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