My journal writing over the years has been sporadic and if I look back on the entries, very boring. Pretty much a list of activities done by myself or members of my family. Not much color or emotion.
Since Josh's death, I have already filled three blank books. Thoughts, questions, emotions and feelings such as hurt, pain, sorrow, and grief are scribbled in these pages. I am doing a lot of reading and as I journal through the books, it helps me to remember what I've read, and internalize key thoughts and ideas.
For example, I can relate to the author of The Suicide Index. Joan Wickersham was already out of the home, married with a child when her father shot himself. Fifteen years after his death, she began penning this memoir. She ponders over the same questions that I have.
I read this book quickly, with my customary underlining, writing in margins and dog-earring the pages that speak to me. Let's just say that I would not be able to resell this book or even give it away. After finishing, I set it down for a few days. Then came back, re-read what I marked, and opened up my journal. This is what I wrote about the above quote:
What was it about him that made him add up the reasons and come up with dying as the right answer? Had he been adding up reasons? Was it possible to arrange rational causes in a column and arrive at an irrational result? Was his death a rational act, or an irrational one? Was his suicide a decision he made, or a force beyond his power to control? Did he have a choice? If so, then he did something unforgivable. If not, then how can we blame him? (69, 229)
First of all, will I be obsessed with these questions fifteen years from now? I hope not, but knowing me, I probably will be. "Queen Analyzer" - that could be my middle name. It is like taking a thread - a question or thought and following it to where it leads. Problem is, the answer is unknown, or if it could be known, it is complicated. Cannot be one answer. Someone cannot commit self-murder as the result of a simple answer - like he was a teenage, impulsive, spur of the moment, wasn't thinking, his brain was not fully developed. Too neat, like an accident. Cannot explain an accident, it just happens. Unavoidable. Chance. Nothing could be done. I am therefore absolved of all guilt as a mother of a child who committed suicide. Sorry, I can't accept this. I cannot or will not let myself off the hook that easily. So while some of this may be true, I reject it as the only answer.I currently write in a bound black book with unlined pages which I found for around seven dollars. Being the control freak that I am, I was unsure about writing without any lines. "Be free, write big, small, diagonally across the page, draw - whatever you want to do," the "how-to" journal books have said. Surprisingly enough, I do like it. And I've found a type of pen that I like too. A disposable fountain pen which I've ordered from Staples. About two dollars per pen, it is a little pricey, but I like how it feels across the page.
So with my unlined blank book and my fountain pen, when I sit down to write, I feel at home. With a friend. A confidante. Available 24/7 - without judgment, critique or the need to "fix" me. Willing to take whatever I give: good, bad, ugly and downright horrible. Can take my tears without getting uncomfortable or the silence without needing to fill the space with words. Willing to listen to all of my emotions, regardless how irrational they may be.
Sometimes I have been unable to sleep and so I take my journal downstairs, intending to write while in front of Josh's tree. Most times, I get sleepy, lay down and fall asleep with the lights and beautiful white tree being the last image in my tired mind - my journal doesn't care. Nor when I wake up at 6:30 am with some thought that I have to get down on paper - no problem. Completely unselfish - only there for me - as much as I want to give or as little. Hours and hours in one day and only a couple of quick minutes in a week - my friend is always there.
How could I survive the overwhelming loss, sadness, grief, guilt, despair over Josh's young and tragic death without it? Simply put, I could not. My feelings, without a safe outlet, would churn, boil, bubble up and explode. I can now understand why some people turn to alcohol after tragedy to mask the pain. Instead of this type of harmful activity, I can bring a nice cup of tea or glass of wine to my room, sit down and pour my feelings onto the pages of my journal.
There is not a human who could be this type of friend to me. I could not be this for someone else, but a ninety-nine cent spiral notebook or seven dollar blank book can be. And so I say, "Thank you, journal, for being there for me over the past nine-and-a-half months - the most horrible that I've had to endure - that any mother would have to suffer. You have kept me sane. You have saved me and will continue to do so. Thank you for being my friend".