This is why I write

I’ve been really, really bad about writing in the past nine months. I have reasons but I don’t want those reasons to be seen as excuses.

I set up Janicek.com almost seven years ago as whatever I was thinking seven years ago. It became a personal journal and repository for photos that immediately became a “blog” when the word “blog” was invented by Al Gore. Or Orville Redenbacher.

In those seven years I’ve always thought, “who is my target audience?” The thought of monetizing has always been an idea but not something I wanted to focus my efforts on wholeheartedly. When it comes down to it, I’ve always written to myself with my Mom and Elise’s Grandma in mind. That’s why I don’t say “shit”, “fart” or “Girls Gone Wild”.

It’s emails like the one below that inspire me. A total stranger that took the time to write to us to say, “I care”. It’s people like this that help me maintain a genuine faith in our society.

I received this email on Father’s Day.

Dear Janiceks,

This is a random email, from a random woman who lives 1500 miles away from Austin. I’ve felt compelled to write your family for months now, and I’m just now getting around to it. I hope you don’t find this too crazy.

I discovered your Maly blog in January 2006 shortly after learning I was pregnant with my first child. As most first-time mothers, I was trying to gather as much information about what was ahead of me as possible. My first task was to look at as many ultrasound pictures as I could get my hands on so that I wouldn’t be freaked out by what I saw, or didn’t see, at my first ultrasound appointment. I did a google search, which eventually led me to the ultrasound pics on the Maly blog. At my first ultrasound, I mistook the yolksac for a head and thought I was carrying a two-headed baby, so it turns out all my research was for naught. In any case, I was hooked on the Maly blog for a few reasons. First, I had recently moved to California after spending 10 years in Texas, the last three in Austin at the University of Texas School of Law, so I was thrilled to read anything you had to say about the city I love so much. Second, Elise was three months away from giving birth to Maly at the time, so I could read the blog and know what I could look forward to over the next several months. Third, all the baby-related links gave me something to look at when I didn’t feel like working.

So, I regularly checked for updates on the blog, and when y’all had Maly, I was thrilled for you. Of course, I then began to regularly check the Janicek blog for updates on your first few months with Maly. I was always amused by what you wrote and touched by the way she changed your family. She is completely adorable, by the way.

After having my son, I no longer had hours and hours to procrastinate doing actual work by reading blogs. So, several months went by before I checked back in to see how things were going with your family. When I did and I read what happened with your dad, my heart broke for you. After all those months of reading about your adventures raising Maly and looking forward to my own time as a parent, I returned to your blog only to discover that on the day of the very event that led me to your blog in the first place, the birth of my son, you experienced the death of your father. My husband and I were celebrating the birth of our son when you were saying goodbye to your dad. We welcomed our son into the world the morning of September 26th. I don’t know why I was so affected by something that happened in a family of people I only know through pages on the Internet, but for some reason, knowing that you were experiencing such a profound loss at the same time I was experiencing the greatest joy and new life really hit me. The beginning and end of life suddenly became very clear.

I’m still not sure exactly why I felt so compelled to share this with you. But, I know that every year when I celebrate out son’s birthday, I will think about your family and your dad. It’s obvious from what you’ve written about your dad just how much he meant to you and what a significant part of your life he was. I guess I just wanted you to know that I, a complete stranger, was touched by his passing and continue to keep your family in my thoughts.

4 Replies to “This is why I write”

  1. What a touching letter and how sweet that she took the time to write. What she said covers so much, such as how no life or death is not felt by other people, even, sometimes, people we don’t know.
    And how sharing our own experiences can be of help to other people. And how there’s always new life, even amid death.
    I firmly believe we are all connected in some way, and it’s so affirming when someone tells us how we have helped them, even when we had no idea we were doing so. What a gift she gave you, Josh. And many more of us, for that matter.
    I send my good wishes to her and I can’t help but believe that she is an excellent mother.
    Love, Elise’s mom and Maly’s gran

  2. That was indeed a heart warming letter Josh. You’ve done such a wonderful job with your blog, and I enjoy following along on your journey. Your Mom and I met in a chat room back about 1995 and we have emailed back and forth ever since. I have talked to your Mom on the phone, and also to your Dad, because he wanted to hear this Canadian say “Eh?”. I’ll never forget that for sure.

    Many hugs to you and your family, and a special hug to Maly for sure!

    Mary~Canada

  3. That is amazing today with all the negativity we here constantly to here something warm and refreshing. I know you miss your dad but it just reminds me yet again to cherish the moments I get with my father as well knowing he is getting older. It also reminds me of what he said my grandpa told him “you got to live with the ones that are here.” And you have been blessed with a beautiful daughter and family so for everyone just enjoy life wherever it takes us.

  4. I’m going to have to stop reading your blog b/c it makes me cry every time! Your writing is nothing short of amazing.

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