I know that you don’t know me, not yet.
You can’t conceive of a you that has a career, a fiancé, pays bills and drives a car. You don’t know that my favorite food is Indian, or that I drink Merlot like water. But I’m here; I exist out in the world. And you know what? We’re doing okay.
We live millions of miles from home right now, and for the most part we have loved our time here. We run by the ocean, and we still love the sound of waves crashing onto the shore as the breeze plays with our hair. We miss home terribly though.
If I remember rightly, you have it all figured out by now.
You have already decided that you are going to be a writer. You plan to travel the world and absorb all the magic that lingers in the far-flung corners of the earth. You want to climb mountains, and sleep under the stars. You want to meet those enchanting people that dance into your life and change your perspectives forever. I can tell you, 20 years on, that your dreams haven’t changed much. But your life sure has.
There is now a desire to please our loved ones, and to live up to the expectations of our peers. We are scared to break free and do what makes our spirit soar. Please, listen to me when I say—take English Literature at University, not Business Management. It’s what your heart aches to do, but you crush the longing in order to give yourself a “career path.” (It worked, but you are miserable.)
I want you to understand that the pain you feel right now, and the heart-wrenching agony that will hit you later when our parents divorce, is not your fault.
Somewhere along the way there will be darkness, emptiness. Times where you will sob your heart out to a God that you are certain is not listening. Or, if he is listening, is punishing you for something. You will sit on the upstairs landing at night, shivering with worry and cold, listening to our parents talking in low angry tones in the kitchen. Later you will realize that there was nothing you could have done to keep them together. You will understand that love is complex, and that our parents, like us, are just human too.
You will decide that marriage isn’t for you, and that love can’t be trusted to last forever. It will haunt you, and it will make you behave badly sometimes. Don’t worry too much about that; I’m here to tell you that we meet people along the way who redefine love for us. They give us their heart freely, and we finally understand that someone can love the essence of your soul without expecting anything of you in return.
I’m sorry to have to tell you, we lose people we love along our journey.
Sometimes we go our separate ways from them and sometimes, more permanently, death steals their sunshine from our life. Everything that we think we knew turns out not to be true. We hurt. We grieve. We change. We grow. I’m here on the other side of it today. You will want to give up. You won’t. You are more of a fighter than you ever realized you could be.
I want you to hang in there and to understand that your scars tell a story to the world. A story that makes you so much more beautiful and interesting then you can ever know.
Lastly, because I have never acknowledged it before, I am proud of you. You are a dreamer, and you haven’t lost that. You still make mistakes and sometimes you hurt people, but you aren’t afraid to apologize and try to make it right. These days we surround our life with people that share our values and honor our dreams. We give them all the love that we have in us, and they give it right back.
We laugh a lot. I like that about us.
Do remember that life never presents us with more than we can handle, and that every struggle is a lesson, even if you can’t see it at the time. I don’t know what’s in store for us next, and maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps I will never send this letter to you. After all—the unknown is what makes life such a wonderful adventure.
All my love,
Originally published here on Elephant Journal