I bought a new journal a few weeks back. Planning ahead. Knowing my current one was nearly full. Wanting to make sure I didn’t run out of pages. But here I sit, the last sheet of lined paper filled with words, and yet unable, unwilling, to close the cover.
“It’s just a page,” I tell myself. “Turn it, then open up a new one.” Impossible.
How could I have known that I would finish my most recent journal on the very day that marks my first-born leaving home, the day before I take her to college, the day that perches precariously between all that has gone before and all that is yet to come? The symbolism is not lost on me.
With every journal I complete, I feel a certain sense of satisfaction, of accomplishment, of “success,” somehow. It’s a physical sign of something completed. I close the cover and hold it in my lap for just a moment – palpably aware of all I’ve experienced and expressed in and on those pages. All I’ve grieved. All I’ve imagined. All I’ve hoped.
I can’t bring myself to close this one, these 18+ years, these everyday days. I can’t bring myself to open a new one to late-night phone calls and weekend visits and home-for-the-holidays. I can’t bring myself to face the empty page, the now-empty half of her room, the empty space no longer filled by her everyday presence. How can I?
As my hand hovers on this last page, this tome that is Emma Joy, I am flooded with so much of the same. She has been physical sign, daily reminder, visceral presence in my life. A life that, with and because of her, is complete and rich and messy and whole. Every word, sentence, paragraph, and page so full, so true, so worthwhile. I held her in my lap for hours, the most-profound and miraculous manifestation of me-as-creator, the end to infertility’s grief. More than I ever imagined. More than I could have ever hoped.
How can this day be here? How can this journal be filled? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I opened to the first, fresh, brilliant page that was her? Wasn’t it just yesterday that she scribed herself across my heart?
As I (will, eventually, necessarily) close this journal, it is Emma Joy who opens the new one. As it should be! Blank pages upon which she has yet no idea, no notion, no preconceived idea of all the glorious prose and poetry and music and drama and grief and imagining and hope that await her powerful, poignant writing – on the lines and between them. This is the gift of a new journal, of life itself: wide open space, freedom, and stepping into an unknown that awaits creative engagement, consistent presence, honest truth. What more could I possibly wish or hope on her behalf?
Turn the page and write, Emma! College-ruled paper. New pens. Words and stories and experiences and expressions to create, compose, and live. Write yourself! No pseudonym. No holding back. No editing. No restraint. Because you can. Because you know how. Because you’re ready. Because you will change the rest of the world just as you have changed mine. And remember that it will require no more effort to do so than your willingness and maybe the occasional reminder from your mom that this is what you have always done, that this is who you are – indelibly inscribing yourself onto every heart you touch.
“It’s just a page,” I tell myself. “Turn it, then open up a new one.” Not impossible, just not yet. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. But for now, I’ll hold it in my lap just a little bit longer. Pen in hand. Heart on sleeve.