by Liz Johnston
I recently unearthed a forgotten journal I’d kept while I was pregnant. I’ve always kept journals--have so many that I never knew this one was missing. Coincidentally, I found the journal as I was preparing for a book-club discussion that centered around a mother-child relationship and involved a mother’s journals bequeathed to her daughter at the time of her death.
I realized it probably wasn’t a coincidence that this journal returned to me as I was preparing to share memories of motherhood in our discussion. In fact, I am believing in coincidence less and less these days. Too many special signs and poignant reminders arrive with the most perfect timing. Perhaps I am just choosing to see these moments as signs, but even if they are coincidence, they are comforting. The first page of my journal read “This book is for my yet unborn child--my future. I don’t know if you are a boy or a girl, but I know how much I love you already.”
As grateful as I was to find the journal, to read and be reminded of all the hope a mother holds for her child, all the anticipatory joy she experiences, it broke my heart. What a remarkable loss. For your future, for my future, the future of others who miss you, or even worse, for those who will never experience you. Further into the journal, (when you were already a toddler), I wrote of a day I slept longer than you’d liked. You were tugging on me to get up and asked “Want me to hold your hand to go to the kitchen?” So sweet. And when I finally did get up, you said to me “What a good boy you are, Mommy.” Reading this made me ache and laugh through my tears as only you could do. I was grateful for the recorded memory--as I’d lost that one long ago.
Back to book-club, our discussion swirled with sweet stories of our own mothers and grandmothers- then at times turned to treasured moments of our own motherhood. An incredibly bittersweet topic for me. When a mother has lost her only born child--her future, where does that leave her? What does that mean for her future? Her dreams for his future? Jordan, the day you were born, March 5th, 1993, was the best day of my life. It will remain so forever. I cherish that perfect day and the years of joy you brought me, but today, and every March 5th, my arms are empty, and my heart aches.
I wish that I had shown you the journals I kept. I wish you’d read the journals that recorded my love well before your birth. I wish you’d read about the endless, boundless love of a mother for her son. The journals that chronicled our precious life. The journals in which I apologized on only paper for yelling at you on some of the bad days. I wish I’d shown you the journals in which I succumbed to the guilt that plagues all moms who don’t always live up to their expectations. But I never did. I guess I always thought there’d be time for that. Or perhaps, like the woman of our book-club discussion, perhaps I assumed I’d bequeath them to you along with other mementos. But life moves like water, moves as it will, goes the way it goes, not the way you might want.
One of the last (material) gifts you gave to me was a beautiful leather bound journal. Appropo. On the inside you inscribed “To my mother with hopes to inspire…..with love.” Also appropo. Since the moment I knew you would enter the world, I was inspired. By love. I continue to be inspired. By love. And I always will.
Jordan, on this day, 26 years ago, you made me whole. You changed me. The moment you were placed into my arms was the very moment I was born to experience. You gave me life. A life I will cherish until we are together in the next. Mama loves you more than air. Thank you for ALWAYS inspiring me. With love.