I have kept a journal since I was a teenager in the late 1970s. My journal isn’t a diary of daily occurrences, but a collection of documents containing my thoughts, insights, struggles, joys, accomplishments, activities, and feelings, and those of others with whom I am closely connected, mostly family. All these documents go into one-inch black three-ring binders, the dates printed on the spines, lined on my bookshelves. The binders contain the letters I send and receive, drawings by my children, cards, musical concert and theater programs, my children’s Facebook posts sharing personal messages, and emails, especially from my mother, who sends a wonderful weekly family letter, always containing a gem worthy of preservation. For example: “When bad news comes to someone in our family, we all want to help. Isn’t that wonderful? Many families have family rifts that drive brothers and sisters and parents away from each other. In our family we want to help and bless the one in need.” Just by saying that she makes us want to make it true—and it is true. Taken together, these journals come the closest anything can ever come to showing who and what I am, individually and in connection with those I love. All these journals, dozens of them, now have gone into boxes. They will someday again rest on my bookshelves. For now, they are safely tucked away.
My son worried that his parents’ divorce might doom his own impending marriage, and he asked me what happened to end mine. I told him he would know the answer to his question when I died and my children inherited and read my journals, if they wanted them. In the meantime, he could take comfort in knowing three truths: (1) he was not responsible in any way for my divorce; (2) both his mother and his father love him very much; and, (3) the success of his marriage has nothing to do with the failure of mine, but rather with the investment he and his wife make in theirs.
I don’t know why I compulsively keep these journals. I suppose, simply because my heart tells me to. My life is no more or less noteworthy than any other human life. I do not feel a need to be remembered or praised. But I do want to be understood and accepted for who I am. That “I am” is contained in 45 years of black binders, preserved for a future audience (of perhaps zero). I hope, however, and more importantly, that the being that is me is held affectionately in the hearts of the living whom it is my joy to bless and uplift where I can.