As we approach Sebastian’s second birthday next week, I thought I would share a special gift for him that I’ve been working on. But, first, some background.
Many years before I became pregnant, I was in graduate school and was spending one of my breaks binge watching sappy movies on Netflix when I came across Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas and decided to watch it, thinking it was going to be just another love story. It actually kind of rocked my world a little bit and I didn’t even realize it yet. Allow me to explain (spoilers ahead):
The movie, which is based on the James Patterson novel of the same name, is about a woman named Katie who is starting to fall in love with her new boyfriend, Matt, when he abruptly ends the relationship. She then receives an old diary from him in the mail with a note instructing her to read it so she will understand why he wasn’t ready to be in a serious relationship with her. The diary, it turns out, was written by his first wife, Suzanne, to their son, Nicholas, and in it she describes how she met Matt, her hopes for her marriage and family, and the unparalleled joy that having a baby has brought into her life. Katie starts thinking Matt is married with a child, that she’s the “other woman,” and that’s the reason he can’t be with her, but she soon discovers through the diary that he actually experienced a horrible tragedy.
On Nicholas’s first birthday, Suzanne has a massive heart attack while she’s driving her car and she wrecks. It turns out that Nicholas was in the car with her and they both die. *Whew* That’s heavy. So, Matt was still reeling from this incredible loss – even several years later – when he met Katie, and when he started to fall in love with her, he felt guilty and ended the relationship. In the end, however, they end up together because of course they do.
Back in real life, fast forward several years to June 2017. Sebastian is about two months old and I’m recovering from a freak heart attack when I remembered this movie. I went straight to the library to check out the book and I ended up reading the entire thing in about a day. After sobbing into the pages, I decided that I was going to write a diary for my own son so he would have a piece of me in the event that something horrible happens to me before I had a chance to tell him all the things a mother is suppose to tell her son, like how much I love him, how proud I am of him, and, just like Suzanne, how incredibly happy it made me to have him in my life.
This book was pivotal in my life in one other way: it helped me decide to quit my job and stay home with Sebastian full-time for a little while to focus on bonding with him and on taking care of my health. You can read all about that here.
Anyway, I did start Nikki’s diary for Sebastian.
It’s a big, leather journal that I write in every few months, or when we hit big milestones, or when I simply have something I feel I need to tell him. And, in all honesty, I often write to him in the days following a panic attack because, in those days, I feel so uncertain about the future, so scared that I won’t make it out of the funk, so worried that I won’t be here for him in the future, so I reemphasize my love for him through words in a journal. So far, I’ve written about how his dad and I met, holiday celebrations, his first steps, his likes and dislikes, songs I sing to him, his personality, etc. All the little things I want him to know about himself and about me, and about my love for him. If something does happen to me, he will have this journal, a little piece of me, that tells him straight from my hand all of the thoughts and feelings I have about being his mother. And if nothing happens to me, which is the best case scenario, then I will give him the journal as a gift when he’s old enough to appreciate it. My plan is to write in it until the day I give it to him.
I’ll leave you with this quote from the book that has resonated with me so profoundly that it changed the course of my life:
“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls – family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life.” -James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
Thanks for reading. I hope you’re inspired to create your own special gift for your loved ones.