I embraced it; I loathed it. It was a cloth bound book with blue and red swirled flowers on the cover. Inside were the raw words from my heart and soul.
Once it was filled with crisp, lined pages. That was the day it was gifted to me by my three-year-old son Daniel’s oncology nurse. That day it was just a pretty journal. Daniel smiled as I thanked this nurse for her thoughtful present.
Months later, this object contained sentences no one wants to ever write.
Never far from me, I lived for moments when I could take respite from my days to visit with this book. No longer clean and white, it was stained with tears, full of questions, anger, agony, and sorrow.
I’d kept a plaid-covered journal when Daniel was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. That was a journal where hope lined the pages because I was certain that with faith and prayers, chemo, surgeries, and radiation, my son would be cured of his aggressive tumor.
After Daniel’s funeral, I knew that the blue and red journal would never hold hope. Life, as I knew it and wanted, had ended. With Daniel gone, I only wanted the floor to open up and swallow me, taking me away from pain and misery.
The floor never opened. But the journal was there every day, allowing me to deposit whatever I needed onto the numerous pages. I wrote under a weeping willow tree at a local park, at a secluded booth in my favorite coffee shop, at stop lights. I wrote when I was frustrated with those who didn’t care about my brokenness, and when a stranger sent a card to comfort me.
When the pages ran out, I purchased another journal, and then another. I never expected one journal to be able to contain the entire volumes of my heartache.
My journals of the early years after Daniel’s passing sit in a bag in my closet now. I know that at anytime I could open one, and read. Yet, I don’t. Although much stronger now, thanks to my journal-writing, I still don’t want to face that woman who didn’t want to live.
The blue and red journal is more than a journal. This gift I received became a gift to myself and my sanity whenever I opened it to release parts of my torn heart.
While I often hated having a reason to have to write in it, I will always be grateful that it was there for me-never judgmental, never belittling, never preachy. Writing made me a believer that putting pen to paper is one of the best resources we have as humans for healing.
Because as I wrote, this journal provided me with something I didn’t think it ever could or would. Hope.
~ Alice J. Wisler is the author of two new novels that deal with loss and grief, Rain Song and How Sweet It Is (Bethany House). Read more about Daniel and her writing at http://www.alicewisler.com