Last Thursday, I was driving in my car, trying to catch ten minutes of listening time on the radio. Lucky for me, “Radio Times,” hosted by Marty Moss-Coane, was airing on National Public Radio (NPR). I became immediately captivated by the interview with Terry Tempest Williams, author of a memoir, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice. Terry told listeners how, while her mother was dying, she told her daughter, “I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me that you will not look at them until after I am gone.” In total, she left 54 journals, “one for every year of her life.” Weeks later, after her mother died, Terry, then 25, went to look at her mother’s three shelves of journals and became shocked to discover that the pages in each and every one of them were blank.
Each time I tell the story, I watch people’s jaws drop and faces register confusion. How could that be? How could it be that a woman held on to three shelves worth of journals that never had a single entry? The author, now 54, the same age her mother was when she died, questions, “What was my mother trying to tell me?”
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