Losing Hand-Written Work

On the eve of Saturday, July 20, I watched a movie called “Life Of Pi”. There were a few scenes that saddened me, but none so deeply as the part where the hand written notes flew out of the boy’s hands.

The next morning, I was cleaning my room. I had a few of my old journals in a pile, and set out to put them back where I normally store them – in a big bin with the rest of the past 23 years worth of them.

I remembered that a few weeks earlier I’d had necessity to temporarily store the bin in my 19-year-old daughter’s room in the basement, so I went downstairs and asked her for them. She handed me an empty bin, saying, “You mean this? I’d been using it for shoes…”

She pointed at a pile of boxes in the living room, saying, “The journals might be in there somewhere.”

It was a daunting mess that had accumulated as a result of my daughter having moved from one room to another, wherein she had rearranged various items I’d kept stored in the spare room, but I finally got through all of it after several hours.

None of my journals were found.

I searched the whole house and property, asking everyone if they had any idea where my journals might be. Nobody claimed to know. One family member said they had seen them in the basement a few weeks ago, and, as they realized they were not in their usual place, they put them back to where I normally keep them.

I’ve been beside myself with heartache over losing these hand-written accounts that spanned half my life, dating back to 1990, including details of all my pregnancies, births, cute events from the childhoods of my kids, stories from living in the wilderness of Alaska, and so much more.

I’ve had a lot of trauma in my life, but the journals represented the everyday and the good. I could look back at them and remember that things weren’t always bad.

I wanted to save those journals for my kids as a legacy, but now they are gone.

It is hard to shake the fear that my daughter is lying to me about not knowing where they are. I suspect that she wanted the bin for shoes while she was rearranging her living quarters, sought out the bin, removed my journals, disposed of them, and didn’t give it another thought until I asked about them. Even if she is behind this, I’d feel better knowing than not knowing, and I would forgive her if she told me the truth. She knows this. We discussed it. Yet she insists she doesn’t know anything about their whereabouts.

My heart is broken. I feel like a large chunk of my physical body has been removed from me. I feel violated. I feel I am in limbo, not knowing for sure if the books are gone for good.

I cry sometimes as I think about it. I don’t know what hurts more – the loss of my books, or the thought that they might have been thoughtlessly taken by my own adult child who is lying to me.

With writing I do on the computer, I can and do back it up. With hand-writing that fills book after book, it would take years to scan and save it if I worked at it eight hours a day.

I am trying to be strong about this and get over it. I know it is only a material thing, not a life, that has been lost. Still, it feels like a part of my own life has been lost, and so it hurts accordingly.

I think back to how deeply I felt the pain of the boy in Life Of Pi losing his hand-written work. Little did I know it was a foreshadowing of what I was about to discover had happened to me.

Have you ever had your hand-written work disappear? How did you heal up from it? Or did you ever heal up?

UPDATE: I forgot to update this post. A few weeks after I wrote it, the journals were found in a tiny room beneath the basement stairs, behind the water heater.


Taking heart in the other post I published today: A Beautiful Spirit


11 thoughts on “Losing Hand-Written Work

  1. My feelings are two-fold: oh my God and a sudden gasp. As a writer I can understand the loss and hurt of putting every thought, and stray thought down. Whether it’s a story or poetry or some essay, it was still a piece of you that you were putting down by hand for the pleasure of your children, so they would know what you went through,,have gone through and of events to come. It may not be hurtful but in some way, it’s still like losing someone that you cared for. I have a binder of: stories, ideas, and poetry from my high school days that I would like my niece to read some day, so yes, I do understand.

  2. Oh sweetie! YES!! I’ve had precious handwritten stuff get lost forever as well! I used to LOVE writing short stories, and I had pages and pages of them. All fiction. Some animal stories, and some stories of little-known people in the Bible. I kept them in a manilla folder in the spare room along with other paperwork.
    One day while I was out, my husband, bless his heart, decided he wanted to please and bless me by cleaning out that room. Result? ALL my short stories gone! Forever! I nearly cried! But I tried to hold back the emotion bse my husband felt SOO badly about it, and looked as though HE wanted to cry as well!!
    I haven’t been able to re-write them, unfortunately, or been able to write new things-I have major writer’s block for the past 18-20 years! Bummer!!

    Meg Wojcik

    • What a terrible loss, and as a result of good intentions. I hope a lot of people read this and learn not to intrude in someone else’s territory. No matter how much you think you can improve someone’s situation, it is their situation and should not be touched by anyone else without prior and explicit approval. And, no, you cannot recreate a lost literary work. You have to be in the exact same frame of mind and that never comes twice. You have my sympathy for whatever that is worth.

  3. In 1985, I was 21 and I had been writing stories since Grade 4. I had binders full of them illustrated and all. My house burnt down and they were gone. It was those and the family photos I lost that hurt the most. Along with the stories I also lost the innocence of that child. The stories they are still in my head but can never come out the way they did from that kid. Those stories told my story from a very real perspective. I hope you find yours.
    P.S. “I love the Life of Pi”. A storyteller’s story.

    • You have said so much with a few words! Yes, you still have the memories but it is impossible to recreate them with words because you will never feel the same as you did when you were writing about them the first time. what a sad thing to have happen!

  4. Steeny Lou, You have my sincere sympathy. Not only for the loss of your journals but for the lack of respect from those you trust. It is possible, of course, that they will be found but not likely since there are those who know what they looked like and likely know what became of them but aren’t admitting to it. That part nearly equals the sadness of losing the journals. I am sorry that I can do nothing more than offer my sympathy.

  5. it’s like losing a huge part of you. you can write again but you know you can’t write exactly the same thing again.and yeah, that hurts big time. but as one of my fave quote goes: “If you can’t go back, you just have to think of the best way to move forward” 🙂

  6. I was just re-reading this and realized I never did come in and post an update. In early September of that year, 2013, after the journals had been missing for several weeks, the lost was found. In the basement, way back in a dark little closet, behind the hot water tank and the water softener, a family member spotted the bin. Whew! Whew! Whew!

    I started scanning the journals shortly after their reappearance. I got through the first one, and part way through the second one, but got sidetracked and never did continue. I know I should, and I hope I will.

  7. I remember you hiding them from wayne in my room under my bed but not the shoes.. I remember you saying they had gone missing, i thought the whole container was gone with them?! Im sorry i was smoking cannabis.. And i hope they have been returned.

    • Oh! They got found a few weeks later! They were way in the back of that little room under the basement stairs, behind the water heater. I should have updated this post. I will see if I can figure out how from.my phone now.

      It is ok, Courtenay. I was very upset at the time, but I don’t hold anything against you. I absolutely love you, no matter what.

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