I don’t always know what Enough is, but I know that too much is what is stuffed and piled and packed around my house. In an effort to lift myself up spirit, mind and body I have been culling my bookshelves and drawers ruthlessly boxing things up and carting them to local charities. I even took to shredding numerous old journals that are really nothing but scribbled out drivel that I needed to empty from my crowded mind so I could concentrate on other things. I thought I had done away with the journals when I found a few more today. They were tucked into the hard little overnight case put under the computer table here to put my feet on like a makeshift footstool. They were the last three years worth of day-to-day scribble of life stuff.
I sat down beside the shredder and opened up the cover to the first page of the first notebook and saw written at the top of the page August 11, 2006. My daughter, Seanna, died that same day one year later in 2007. The date stunned me. I turned off the shredder and just sat staring at the date thinking, “I didn’t know. I didn’t know.” On that day in 2006 I didn’t know we only had a year left and my writing reflected that. I talked about summer things and children’s squabbles and things I looked forward to and the things I didn’t look forward to. On all the pages that followed it was just our lives as they were then. Love, pain, fear, more love, more fear… And in between every line I saw pictures of us today, Seanna and I, doing the stuff we did the same way every day. The way we touched, the way we looked at each other, the way we sat together, played together, bathed and dressed and napped together. And I just kept thinking, “I didn’t know. I didn’t know.”
Eventually I had read my thoughts and details of the time between then and her death when I stopped writing, where the journal abruptly ends, and I set to shredding them all up while the tears gathered in my throat and just bulged up there. Soon the shredder was too slow and I was too…something…and I simply tore all the remaining pages to shreds and deposited them in the recycling bag. There were no special details about things Seanna and I did together that needed to be saved in those journals. All the details that mattered then or now are in my mind and heart. But I had a question that begged answering: If you’d known on that day you had exactly one year left together what would you have done and what wouldn’t you have done with Seanna?
It’s been a long evening since the journals met their fate and I’ve spent nearly all of it sitting quietly listening to a clock tick and wondering, “What would I do that I didn’t do?” I didn’t know. We were very affectionate and I told her constantly all the things I loved about her. So I wondered, “What would I do more of?” Still, I didn’t know. To be more affectionate or spend even more time in each other’s company would have been ridiculous as much as we were already huggy-kissy-hand-holding people. So I wondered, “What wouldn’t I have done?” I thought I’d dig up a few answers here. I spent a long time on this one, but I still didn’t know. We struggled to make sure she got the most out of being alive by putting our faith in the truism that ‘change is life’ and insisting she grow and learn to be independent as possible when she struggled as hard as she could to maintain the total dependence that was easier. I know that independence made her happier than she would have been otherwise. I wouldn’t take back any of the struggle.
Sitting here after all that musing I have to admit we didn’t lose anything by not knowing. Lord, but that’s got to be worth something, something real big, you know? I’m having trouble feeling that specifically. I still just have those tears in my throat and a knowing that I ‘lucked out’ big time in one way but still hurt too much to feel lucky yet. It’s been a while since her death now but I’ve been avoiding myself and herself, if you know what I mean, for nearly all the time since. It’s good I got rid of those journals, those makeship placeholders. Time passed needs to be acknowledged and I need to stop waiting for some mysterious future date to start living and enjoying my life again. This waiting, however, is not new to me. I’m a wait-er. Thankfully, I’m also a ponderer and I’ll give some more thought to this knowing/not knowing business.