I was summoned for jury duty recently.
The third time in seventeen months. I didn’t realize until I showed up that after serving, you are exempt from serving again for twenty-four months, and I could have contested the summons. But really, I was looking forward to sitting in a large room waiting patiently for my number to be called and reading a book.
There is no part of my life that involves sitting in one place for a long period of time reading a book. So, truthfully, I got really excited for jury duty.
Please don’t tell anyone I said that.
I don’t actually want to serve on a trial though, because that takes way too much time.
So I was released around noon and got to spend the afternoon walking around downtown, did a little shopping, went to renew my expired-for-three-months driver’s license, and did a little thrifting.
My favorite thrift shop is top secret and in a bad neighborhood. It’s full of gems and I walk away every.single.time with something I love. I will never share this place with anyone, it’s that good.
Don’t ask, I won’t tell you.
While I was there, I was working on adding to my obsessive book collection, and I came across a fabric-bound notebook that looked like a recipe book. When I started thumbing through it, I realized it was someone’s journal. Specifically, a seventy-eight-year-old woman’s journal.
It immediately made me feel guilty for reading it. The very first page was filled with her thoughts on why she needed to get her story down on paper and why she had to do it now, before she started to forget all the best parts.
This made my heart hurt.
Who was this woman? What were her stories? And how did this book end up at a thrift store?
I would like to tell you I bought her journal.I have been known to buy a stranger’s wedding album if I think it might be thrown away. I did not buy her journal. But I’ve thought about it every day since passing it up and I wish I had.
This beautiful old woman wanted someone to know her. She needed someone to remember her stories. She could feel her time near its end and she felt such a pull to make sure someone else remembered her and her life.
I know that feeling. It is sometimes overwhelming. The feeling to be known, to not be forgotten, to not feel like it was all for nothing.
We all need to share our stories; with our kids, with our spouses, with our friends. I want people to be invested in my life and I want to be invested in their lives. And that starts with sharing our stories.
I wish I would have bought that journal.
Originally published on Trusty Chucks in February 2013.
Mary Graham is a lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Indiana. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog, Blue. During the day, she teaches high school English and at night (after the girls are asleep), she writes for The Huffington Post, Pearson's Teachability, For Every Mom, her own blog TrustyChucks & various other print and digital outlets. In her spare time, she likes to read, travel, eat chocolate, run half marathons, and then eat more chocolate.