At the start of my sabbatical last fall, we went to Boston with two of our friends. When we arrived, they pulled out a gift bag for me. I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a sabbatical present! Apparently, Meg was the only one aware of it, because aside from the gift of the sabbatical itself, this gift bag was the only other present I received.
Inside I found this journal and a sweet note. These are the kind of friends you hold on to – the ones who think a sabbatical deserves a gift, the ones who celebrate this time apart, the ones who find joy in your joy. And, friends who want to remind you that you are quick and curious and playful and strong – well, those are good friends.
I was still working through another journal, so I didn’t start in this one until September 24. Yesterday I wrote the last few words on the last page – it took 132 days to fill it, just over 4 months. I’ve gone through journaling phases in my life. Most of the time the journals are half used then tossed aside and wasted.
The journal prior to this one began in the fall of 2015 – it took almost a year to fill up. I’ve got a good streak going. There are high expectations for the journal I started in today. I hope to live up to them!
When I started writing in this journal in late September, I had no idea what it would contain just 4 short months later. I had no idea of the pain and grief that would fill those pages. I had no idea of the struggles and frustrations, the laments and despair. I had no idea there would be so many questions and unknowns. I honestly thought this journal was going to be full of answers and certainties. How naïve of me.
On September 24 I wrote this:
I look forward to seeing what this journal will hold – what insights, revelations, day-to-day meanderings. When I started the last one, I was very sporadic with my writing. When I started it, I had no idea I’d be on a sabbatical in 10 months time. I didn’t know it would travel to Texas, Colorado or New Mexico. Who knows where this one will go? I’m open to the journey and the possibilities.
One month later, on October 24 I wrote this:
I’ve been using this journal one month exactly. A lot has happened in one month. It’s easy for me to discount this time – to say I’ve not used it wisely. That just isn’t true. That’s negativity talking. I’ve reflected, read, wrote, talked, walked, cried, planted, hugged, laughed, traveled. I’ve done a lot. Take it easy. You’re doing okay!
Little did I know that just a few hours after writing that I’d be standing in Joann’s with Brad’s grandmother answering a phone call that would change my life forever. Little did I know that my doctor would say, “I’m so sorry Anne” while I was standing in the notions aisle. Little did I know I’d have to dissociate for a while just to get through my visit with Nanny. Little did I know that I’d get back in the car and sob all the way home. Just a few hours earlier I didn’t know what AMH levels meant. Just a few hours earlier I was expecting to be pregnant in the coming months.
There’s so much more written in my journal that will stay in my journal – my thoughts and feelings, my attempt at processing them and my willingness to stay present to them. I had no idea when I was gifted this journal that it would hold such a tender, gut-wrenching, life-altering time of my life.
As I started in my new journal today, I acknowledged that I don’t know what will fill this one. I don’t have any expectations that something grand will occur in the pages of this journal. I know that it will pass with me through the remainder of winter, through spring and into summer. I know that it will be with me as the light lingers longer and the night shortens. I know that it will once again be filled with my reflections, ideas, wonders, and maybes. I’m sure there will be more tears and more grief. There will also be more smiles and more laughter. All of it. I will live all of life as it comes to me.