by Sara Marchessault
My first journal is an inexpensive blank book. It has a hard cover, but one that has been covered with a layer of batting or stuffing (if I knew the right terminology for the sewing world, I would be a seamstress) and is covered with fabric. It’s one that I would never pick today. Beige with roses on it. The roses are in little clusters with leaves.
At the time of the first entry I was eleven years old. I wrote about living on the farm with my grandparents in a separate house a quarter of a mile away. I got to see my Memere every single day for the time we lived there. I wrote about her in my journal.
Years later, I gave Memere a journal for Christmas and asked her to write about her life. At that time I have been journaling for almost a decade and knew how special it could be to keep a record of your life. She took it and started writing. In her voice, with her words, and with her sense of the world. It is a treasure.
When she died in 2010, I knew I wanted to write something special for her. I knew I would be speaking at her funeral.
I also couldn’t think clearly. She was my first deeply personal and close loss. I knew her better than anyone else I have known who left this world before me. I wanted to make sure that her eulogy captured the essence of what she meant to me. And to the family I share her memories with.
In come the journals! Thank goodness I had those books I could turn too! In the pages of my very first journal I found a story that I used in her eulogy. One that I had forgotten about, but that gladly captured the essence of my childhood and the summation of who she was.
Using the details in my journal, and some from hers (which she had filled and given back to me a couple of years before she died), I pieced together a story about Memere. And it was beautiful.
I had to read it aloud several times before I could do it and be able to continue reading. When I read the eulogy I had prepared for her aloud before family and friends, I knew that she would have been pleased. I know that I helped her funeral to become one they would remember, just like we all will remember her.
When people ask me why I journal I can give lots of reasons. Yes, journaling helps to make decisions. It helps you gain clarity. It can help you process deep, serious shit that could be holding you back from living your best life.
But journaling will also give you what you need when it’s important to remember. The details of a life sometimes get fuzzy around the edges with time, but in the pages of your journal, you can reconnect with the person you were at another age and time of life.
You can remember what you thought of someone you loved. And you can share the gift of those memories with others.
Want to read Memere’s eulogy? It’s a little long, but an easy read, I promise! And you might get some ideas if you ever want to eulogize someone you love. Click here.