Nora Finds an Old Journal
|It is funny how things get caught up in time. Things like memories, and pictures and diaries. Nora wasn't really trying to take a trip down memory lane when she started cleaning out her mother's room, but of course how could she not at least peek around it's corner? Everything she touched reminded her of her loss. She had gone through her mother's clothes throwing things into boxes for the Good Will. Her jewelry and makeup she put into totes and set them aside for such a time as her sister and niece arrived to go through and get what they wanted. She found boxes and boxes of old photographs which she also set aside for all the family to go through. Then in the back of her mother's closet on a shelf in the corner she found three old notebooks which her mother had kept for journals.
Nora pulled them down from the shelf and brought them into the main part of the bedroom. She leafed through the first one as she sat on her mother's bed. Nothing real intriguing in this one; just some poetry a few grocery lists and entries about the sunset or the flower gardens her mother worked tirelessly on. She put the first book on the bed next to her and started rifling through the second. She hadn't really taken a good look at the cover of the second book for if she had she would have noticed how familiar that book looked to her. It didn't matter though as soon as she opened to the first entry she recognized this journal as one of her own. The handwriting gave it away quickly. She wondered why it was in her mother's closet and why was it mixed in with her mother's journals. Flipping it closed she found her answer. The design on the cover was a picture of a single red rose set against an all white background. She was almost certain she had this journal in her own room. Her mother must have had one that was the same and probably picked it up by accident thinking it was hers. The entry she had glanced at had been dated Jan, 8,2009. It was an old journal. Nora would not have looked at it very much if at all which meant the book she had in her collection must be her mother's.
She gathered all the books up and went to her own room where upon a quick inspection of her bookshelf revealed the doppelganger journal sitting in the same space it had occupied for several years. Nora pulled out the precious gem. She had not known it was actually her mother's book. Yup! The same exact cover was staring back at her. She opened the book up to the first entry.
Did some light gardening today. The roses are coming along fine. Nora helped me transplant the bush that had been planted in the backyard to the garden under my bedroom window. She does not have much of a green thumb but she is a great help to these old arthritic limbs. I don't tell her enough but she is a great comfort to me, always helping me out and doing the tasks my poor bones cannot. I don't know what I would do without her.
Nora brushed back tears that were making tracks down her cheeks. She remembered that day. She had been commissioned by her mother to dig up a small rosebush that had not been doing so well from the backyard and transplant it via wheel barrow to a small garden her mother was planting underneath her bedroom window. She remembered the pain in her back after the whole ordeal but mostly she remembered her mother smiling and laughing. She remembered the old straw hat with the faded fake flower on the side. Her mother always wore that hat when she was gardening and the green gardening gloves. She remembered the citronella smell of the insect repellent her mother used whenever she was outside. All of the sudden a memory that had laid dormant somewhere in the back of her brain came to life in vivid color and fragrance. It was eight years earlier before her mother got sick. Before the cancer ravaged her frail body leaving a shadow of the vibrant woman that used to be. It was a good memory. A good day.
She flipped through more of the book. The passages were more of the same. Mostly her mother wrote poetry and day to day happenings she even found a couple of recipes in the back of the book that her mother had copied down from somewhere. One was for an apple pie, the other for a peach cobbler. No life altering emotion ridden drivel like Nora would write about. Only the simple joys of the day. Nothing real deep or personal. Her mother was not the sort of person to write down every little emotion she was feeling. She was pretty good about expressing them outwardly, unlike Nora who had a tendency to keep things bottled up until they just exploded. She figured the last journal would be the same as the first two; poetry and gardening and the occasional recipe.
Sitting in the chair beside the bookcase, she opened the last book. Upon casual perusal she saw more poetry written in her mother's neat handwriting, "When I was in school they taught penmanship. I wasn't taught to write my letters so much as to draw them dear." She remembered her mother telling her this when she was a kid.
Then she came upon an entry dated June 25th 2009. That date stood out immediately to Nora, for that was the day her mother was officially diagnosed with lung cancer. She went numb inside. Did she really want to read this entry? Did she really want to see if that strong facade her mother possessed had cracked in the face of the inevitable? Not wanting to but not being able to stop herself she read the entry. One little line. Two little sentences, one little question, nineteen little words but oh the immense power they possessed.
Bad day. Bad bad news. What does one write about on the day you are given a death sentence?
Nora sat frozen just staring at the page. One line that said it all. And still just like her mother, simple and to the point -but direct, very direct. It couldn't have stung anymore if a dagger had been plunged into her heart. With that last question Nora's mother was captured in all her complexity. The anxiety and fear of the impending unknown had thrown its shadow over her mother. Instead of crying out , screaming or shouting her mother's response was a simple question. One that may have been easily asked but not easily answered. What does one write about on the day they have been given a death sentence? Nora wept softly sinking back into the chair.
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