Quotes that I printed off of Facebook…meaningful song lyrics…predictions for the future from fortune cookies…These are a few of the types of things I have adhered to the pages of my “smash book”. I love collecting little mementos from places, events, and times in my life that are special. In fact, ever since I was in the 8th grade I have been writing down important happenings in my life in a journal. I rapidly filled the pages of journal after journal, filling 2 or 3 books each year, sometimes more, especially during high school when I was filled with the dreaded teen angst. Now that I’m in my 30s, I have been writing in the same journal for the past 3 years, with it not being filled up even halfway yet. My writing has slowed, I don’t have problems with boys anymore that I feel the need to write about and most of the issues I have that are related to being an adult, I can solve by talking to my husband who is good at listening and giving advice. I will never stop writing though. While I don’t often sit and write lengthy entries anymore, I have been keeping up with a 5-year journal in which I have only five lines to describe my day. This limits me to write about only what is the most important about each day that I want to remember. Sometimes there’s nothing exciting or memorable about my day, but I do enjoy looking at each page and seeing what I wrote on the same page the years before. I have a year and a half left before that one is filled. Journals, this smash book, scrapbooks with photos that tell stories, my wedding album with handwritten narration of each page of pictures…I think I might be obsessed with documenting my life. Why do I do it? What compells me to continue to record my thoughts and feelings or my day-to-day activities?
In the beginning, writing in my journal was therapeutic. I wrote because it made me feel better when I was done. Now I realize that I am continuing to write and document, partly because I’m so used to doing it that it feels natural, but more importantly, I’m creating my legacy. Every single journal, beginning with #1 that is dated with some date in January of 1995, is stored securely in a trunk in my closet. I am certain that when I’m no longer on this earth, I want my grandchildren to read my journals. I want them to know what was important to me. I want them to take meaning and inspiration and hope from my words. When I was young, I don’t know how many times I flipped through the pages of my parent’s wedding album and asked my mom questions about the pictures and just genuinely enjoyed looking into the past, at a time before I was born when my parents were united as husband and wife. I want my children to do the same. If I’m not around to tell the story of our wedding day, they will be able to read my words, in my own handwriting and know what I thought about that day and what was special to their father and me. This smash book is the same. One day, I want them to pull it off the shelf when they’re bored (because yes, I want my children to not be so busy all the time like my niece and nephews are with sports and other activities. I want them to know what it means to be bored! And have to be creative to entertain themselves!) I want them to be bored and pull my smash book off the shelf and flip the pages and muse over the things their mother stuck in the book and thought was important to keep.
Pope Francis may not be the pope when they’re flipping through the pages, but they’ll know that he was the pope in “my day”.
The feeling of wanting to share my life with my future children was never so strong as the other day when I was cleaning off my dresser and organizing my jewelry into velvet covered trays. I was throwing away some things and came across a necklace. It was a glass fish with water inside of it. Floating in the water was a grain of rice with my name written on it. My mom bought one for my sisters and I the weekend we celebrated my sweet 16th birthday in the mountains at a craft festival my parents were participating in. I’ve held onto that necklace all these years and I almost threw it away, thinking I’ll never wear that again. But I kept it, and placed it in the tray for safekeeping, knowing that one day, I’m going to have a daughter who’s going to go through my jewelry box (again, when she’s bored–did I mention that my kids are going to be bored?) and she’s going to see that necklace and ask me about it. I’ll tell her all about the incredible sweet 16 birthday surprise that my family orchestrated and how I came to have that necklace. Of course I’ll let her have it when she asks. I nearly shed some tears thinking about a moment that may or may not happen. After all, I might be blessed with boys when we’re finally ready to begin our family. Or it might be that we can’t have children at all. We’ll look into adoption, as we’ve discussed, but these future events may not happen this way. They might not happen at all. But it won’t stop me from collecting odds and ends, from writing down the events of the day, and reflecting on a life that is uniquely my own.