543 Day Writing Journey

I Found His Journal. Day 422.

I was in the storage shed yesterday, clearing out room to get to a dresser. I lifted blue bin after blue bin, some dark some light, all heavy. I couldn’t help but open each one after I set it down and pop open the top.

There were heavy, fully-stuffed bins that cradled neatly-folded baby clothes and blankets in mint green or white, knit stocking caps after knit stocking caps that I made, and thin, soft newborn nighties. I lifted a small white onsie to my face and inhaled the past, traces of Dreft still lingering in the cotton. I closed it quickly to maintain the sweetly-scented memory of nighttime feedings and newborn babies sleeping on my shoulder, their little faces nestled into my neck.

In another bin I found old soccer jerseys, some football t-shirts for Tyler’s team that the parents wore when he was on the Colt’s for Camp Lejeune, and an old, white, very see-through t-shirt that Roger used to wear with a navy blue Billabong label.

“Stop!” he said, laughing. I had a good hold of his torn t-shirt that he refused to retire. We had this thing where I would rip it more with the goal of making it into a rag. (It’s the only reason he ever wore it.)

He looked over his shoulder and we locked eyes. “No! I’m going to throw that out next time it’s in the laundry,” I said.

“Then I won’t wash it,” he said, his smile showing his win.

Now, I treasure it.

I found the Code Red Mountain Dew bottle with his dip spit in it. He had a thing for cigarettes and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t completely stop. He dipped so I wouldn’t smell the smoke on him. I found the bottle in his car a couple years after he died when we were cleaning it out for Tyler to use in college. That, too, I will never toss. I don’t know why. It’s his DNA.

In another blue bin I saw some primary color mapping pens, red, blue, and green, and large, neatly-folded and tightly-laminated maps. It was one of his Iraq bins from 2004-5 when he went as a casualty replacement for 1/2, one of the bins I know better than to open. There was also an E-tool, brand new tan socks, and a small notepad.

“Here, take this notebook. Write your thoughts in it,” I said to him as he was packing.

“I don’t know if I will have time,” he said as he took it. He placed it neatly into his sea bag, snuggled amongst his tan t-shirts, tan-socks, and even more desert cammies, before he finished his reply.

I vaguely remember seeing this book before with his writing in it, but am not sure if I should read it. I wonder, too, if I made up the fact that I saw it before.

I did not hack into his Facebook to take over his page after he died. I did not hack into his email after he died. I did not turn on his phone after he died. Those are still his personal effects, his own communication with others, his business. Does this journal fall into the abyss of Roger’s Thoughts as well? I could argue either way.

I knew about this journal, though, and although I fantasize about making a cup of lemon-ginger tea and sitting on the front porch to read all of his words, his newly found words in his familiar handwriting, I am struggling.

Another part of this potential adventure of mine that causes me to pause is due to the short part I did read when I opened it in the middle. I’m not sure I can handle other potential thoughts of his I might see:

“I forget half the time that I’m here. I sit in a room about the size of the barracks room. Playing cards or reading or writing like now. Then I step outside or have to go to the bathroom and I have to put my gear on and I’m like OH Yeah I’m in Iraq.”

So now this spiral notebook sits on my desk on top of my own notebook with my bills listed and my writing notes. The spirals are plain old metal and there are tan leaves covering the front. It’s heavy with burden and his own words in black ink of course, and I have to wonder; Why did I find it? Why now? Will I take it one day to the fire pit and toss it into the flames while I sip merlot? Or will I make myself a hot bubble bath and soak my body while I read his words?

According to Vision, this is love persevering, which is also known as grief. It’s one of those times I wish I didn’t love him so much. Although I know what it will do to me, I crave to hear his words, his newly-discovered thoughts, his personal business, but what will it do to me? What will it do to them?

2 thoughts on “I Found His Journal. Day 422.”

  1. Dear Teri,
    I believe that Roger knew that one day, you would be able to read his words, and he shared those personal thoughts with you in mind …
    Uncle Lee

    Liked by 1 person

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