by Kasey Tross
*Side Note: This is my 100th post, so I’m going back to my roots- where this writer started!
Just last week I got the devastating news that a friend from high school had been diagnosed with leukemia. She has two young children- ages 1 1/2 and 5 months- and she had to be started on aggressive chemotherapy right away.
I received this information through Facebook, and because we live far apart it’s been more than 10 years since I’ve seen her in person. I felt helpless and frustrated that there was so little I could do. This friend was my first friend when I moved to West Virginia in eighth grade, and we stayed friends all during high school. She felt almost like a sister to me at times because we were so similar in so many ways- we had the same glasses (we both later got contacts), we both played the flute, and we were both shy. We both dated the same guy for awhile (and we both realized he was a jerk- don’t know why I didn’t believe her when she told me as much!) and we had the same group of friends. Recently, we even ended up being pregnant at the same time and had our babies within a month of each other.
Well, as I was trying to think of ways I might help support my friend, my thoughts turned back to those years, and so I went back to my journals from high school to read about the things we did together, curious to see how often her name might have appeared on the pages. I was an avid journal keeper from eighth grade on, but sadly, I was a boy-crazy teenage girl so I wrote quite a bit more about the boys in my life than I did about our friendship. However, I was able to find several instances when I mentioned her and some fun we had, and I have had such fun reading through my journals and reliving those great memories that I have decided to start sending her excerpts so that she can enjoy them with me.
In the past few years I have been so busy with mommying and with all the other writing in my life that I have neglected my journaling. But as I read through these journals, I realized once again that they are a treasure- not only to me, but to those I share my life with on a daily basis. The memories make me smile and laugh and cringe and then smile again, and I am able to see how I grew from a skinny, boy-crazy 12-year-old to a (almost) mature young woman who found the man I wanted to share eternity with. I realized that someday my own girls will probably be boy-crazy, self-obsessed pre-teens; but because of my journals I know what to expect from that phase, and I know that they will grow out of it (well, at least I hope so).
I also realized that I want to continue that journey in writing, because as I age I want to be able to look back on these times with the same clarity I find in the journals of my youth. I want to remember what it was like to raise young children and be able to see my own personal growth over the years. I also want to have something that I can share with my children, especially my girls, when someday they are young mothers struggling through the day-to-day work of raising a family.
This life is for learning and growth- but not just our learning and growth. When we journal, we can leave behind a legacy of learning, a real-life story that will have far more worth to the generations to come than any bestselling novel.
We are also making a record of the people and moments that mean something to us in our lives, so that when we come to a place where those people have grown up and changed, or they are faced with difficult trials like my friend, or they are even leaving us for the next life, we have concrete memories of the part they played in our lives, memories written in the freshness of the moment that we can treasure and learn from for years to come.
I challenge each of you to keep a journal. If you’re like me and computer keys work better for you than a pen, then use LDSJournal.com- it’s free and you can later print it out as a book. I have started back again and I am grateful for the space it gives me to write from my heart.
My friend said she had a good laugh at the excerpts I shared with her, and she said that reading it had made her day. I am grateful for the heartwarming memories I chose to record and keep safely tucked away, saved for a time when they are sorely needed. A journal is one of the most precious gifts we can give to ourselves and our families!
Do you keep a journal? Do you ever go back and read old journals?