This is a response to a blogging prompt by Swift Expression.
The goal of this exercise is to write a letter. This is to be no ordinary letter though, as it must be written to your former self from your current self. The goal is to impart advice and encouragement to your younger counterpart while explaining your reasons for doing so. Without further explanation, I shall begin:
My Dearest Katie,
I can see you narrowing your eyes. Yes, I just called you by the name you hate. But I promise, one day you will love it because it will remind you of who you are at this beautiful moment in time. You are only 10 my sweet, and I am now 20… but I still find you beautiful and precious. Don’t scoff at me, I’m being honest with you. I know you don’t want to hear it or read this letter I wrote to you, but your life has never been fair and it won’t be fair in the future. Now listen to me… go into your bedroom and grab Fussy and squeeze him as tight as you can. After you do that, I’ll start.
I know you often day dream about me, that shadowy figure in the future. You imagine me to be like an angel… beautiful, accomplished, brilliantly happy… all that you are not right now. But I will shatter that illusion you have of me my sweet, and please don’t cry. Right now, you wish to be nothing but beautiful, and you overlook what you already have. People tell me I’m beautiful all the time, but that’s not what’s important. What is important is your intelligence. Katie my darling, you terrify people with your intelligence. Why do you hide it? Stop that. Don’t be like I am today, don’t you dare regret trying to fit in. Those children you have to be around are not your friends and they never will be. You have nothing in common with them and to be quite honest, they are uncivilized vulgarians. Start doing your school, and start doing it right now. Go grab your books and start. Get caught up on math first, you’ll need it in the future. But always sneak your history textbook to bed with you… you’ll need that more.
You need to stop blaming yourself for Mom. It’s not your fault she is sick, and you know it. You didn’t do anything to cause this, and you keep everything bottled up so tight, no one knows that you are dying inside. But I know, I know and I’m begging you not to hurt yourself one day more over this. I’m so, so sorry love but she is never going to get better. I know you are so scared right now because she’s on a lot of medications and the doctors say she isn’t going to live. But Mom’s a fighter, and she loves you. She loves you, she loves Daddy, and she loves Mandy and she’s not going to give up, ever. Be patient with her, she’s in pain. When she forgets what she’s doing, when she forgets the words to describe things, help her. But don’t say the words for her or remind her, she will just get upset. It makes her feel like she’s a bad Mom. Tell her she’s not, even when she has another personality change and you hate her. You will forget a couple of these years… it’s best that way. But you will make it through because you are strong. Everyone will make it through.
Enjoy every moment you spend with your grandparents, because those memories are the ones you will cherish forever. Write your great grandparents a letter every other week from now on, and when you go to Iowa, play pool with Great Grandpa. But don’t believe him when he says he can’t see the balls. He can, and he’s a genius. Sit down and learn embroidery from great grandma. She learned from her great grandma… did you know that?
Give Granny a hug for me, because I never got the chance to. She’ll be gone all the sudden, and Easter lilies will always remind you of her. Mom won’t like them, they’ll make her cry. She’ll lie and say it’s because it makes her headache worse. But you’re a smart girl, you’ll know the truth. I don’t know if you’ll ever forgive Grandpop for being so horrible to Mom when she was a little girl. But be kind to him, he’s old and he’ll be sad and alone.
You’ll go through a phase where you hate everything. That’s okay, I promise. You’ll also go through 4 years of braces and orthodontist visits, acne, and growing spurts that will make you feel tall and out of place. Rest assured that for those moments, you’ll have books for company. Online school is going to save you, because you’ll hold yourself accountable for once. And you’ll be great at it. By the time you finish all of that, you’ll be a woman.
Your first semester of college, eat. Please. I know you’ll have panic attacks and want to drop out, but you aren’t a quitter. You are amazing, and you will graduate with a near perfect GPA and honors. But don’t tell people your age… they will either underestimate you or think you are a genius. Both of which are not good. You work hard for your grades, so don’t let anyone tell you that you are just magically good at learning.
Don’t think people are all as sweet as you. When you get your first job at Publix, don’t you dare like those people. You’ll be there for 5 years to the day, and you shouldn’t trust anyone you work with. They will attack you because you will be successful by being truthful and respectful. Work under Mr. Koller, he might be scary, but he’s a good man. He knows what he’s doing and he’ll take care of you. But don’t be like your coworkers Katie, and don’t think for a second that their ways are alluring. They will all ruin themselves and scrape off shards of their souls one by one.
You’ll meet your best friend for life there, his name will be Jason. He’ll walk with you and he’ll never abandon you. Be there for him every step of the way. You will love him dearly, but he’s gay and there isn’t anything you can do to change that. So call him your brother and love him unconditionally, even when he does stupid things. He will always, always be worth it.
When a boy named Chris comes along, you’ll like him a lot. Maybe even think you love him… but the best gift he will ever give to you will be his family. You’ll love them like your own and they will do the same. When he moves away, you’ll become a working part of their business. He’ll be a little creepy for a bit, but he’ll eventually leave you alone.
You’ll meet some great people at the university, so give them time and attention. Really focus on them. They are awesome, and you don’t want to miss out. But don’t count on anyone to help you… you’ll be your own knight in shining armor. Literally! But beware one that seems kindred to you… it’s best not to trifle with him, you’ll regret it.
When a boy named Josh comes along, walk the other way. He’s dangerous. He will lie and paint you the most beautiful picture you could ever imagine, but he is abusive. He comes by it honestly, and he will be a tormented soul. You’ll want to help him, but the only one who can save him is himself. He’ll never take that risk, therefore he’ll always be the same. Plus, you’ll work with him. Afterwards. For years. I know I’m stupid sweetie, love is like a drug and makes you do really stupid things. Please don’t judge me too much.
When a boy named Luis comes along, keep him as a friend. You will fall so in love with him you won’t even begin to fathom… but it can’t be. Such pain as this should be spared you my darling. Luis is a good soul, but he’s just a kid. One that didn’t have a good example and doesn’t think highly of himself. He won’t know anything about anything, and he won’t keep his promises. You won’t trust him and you’ll cry, a lot. And it will end abruptly and at the worst possible moment in your life. But you will love like you’ve never loved before. The choice is yours my darling… I’d do it all over again with him. But you must be strong enough to reassemble your entire life after it’s taken from you.
You’ll find joy in the simple things, strength in the unexpected. The people you never really thought of as permanent fixtures in your life will fight to remain as such. You’ll lose innocence and become jaded, but then you’ll forgive and let things go. You’ll grow tall and strong, and pretty. You’ll never have it together, but that’s okay. You will spend your life doing things that make you happy, even though part of you will only want to make a mountain of money. Your focuses will change, you’ll see things you’d never even imagined, and you will learn.
One more thing before I go… You know that necklace Granny got you for your first communion? The gold one where Mary is standing with her arms outstretched? Put it on. Put it on and never take it off. That little round medallion will be a seal on your soul. It will remind you that without God, everything in your life would be blown to hell. He is the only thing that will keep you from flying apart in your darkest hours. Those hours will come, but remember that all the darkness in the world will never extinguish the light of a single candle.
You are my candle Katie, and I love you. And I’m trying my best to do right by you even though I make mistakes. Think about what I’ve said and make your choices… they will never be as bad as the ones I’ve already made for us.