Dear Grace, July 14th 2015
You have hoped for this letter on multiple trips to your realm of imagination as you wondered about the endless possibilities of the future. You just woke up from a dream that felt too real and you will later remember it on a lazy Saturday morning years down the road. It will make more sense then. First of all, I want you to know that you will be nothing close to what you expect, and that is ok. I want this letter to prepare you for what is yet to come but not to change the outcome of our story. Your cuts and bruises are battle scars; every fall is a rough hand moulding you into the person you are today.
You will move to a foreign land, one you will learn to call home. As you grow out of the place you are in, it will feel like an old favourite sweater that could never fit right. You will hold onto it only for the sentimental value. In going back, you will wish for the child-like wonder you once held for that place. The truth is not always beautiful, but eye opening. Speaking of the truth, there is something I want you to know, though nothing can truly prepare you for it. Someone you hold dear will betray you. Learn to forgive him and to let him go. Enjoy the days you had spent with the idea of him for he will be the biggest and most cherished scar of all. Take pictures of moments you shared, like the time he carried you on his shoulders with pride or when you thought he was magic. You will find these pictures in the attic years later and they will feel like broken promises as genuine as the families that come with picture frames. You will cry and lament the child that was. When you are alone you will stare at them for hours trying to relive simpler times. As you are out getting a haircut for your first day of school, he will build a chain to keep the door locked. It is then that you will experience true heartbreak. Your chest will be ripped open and your heart stomped on over and over and over again. You will knock, kick, and scream with no avail. Your family will decrease in size but not in spirit.
You will go through a period of homelessness and it will be the best time of your life. It is then that you reach your lowest point where there is no way but up. These experiences will make you stronger, more driven, and you will embrace them. You will remember the rubber handles of the drawer you shared with three others and how excited you were to be sleeping in a bunk bed. You will also remember seeing your mom completely breakdown in tears as you eat chicken from the tray the shelter staff prepared, hoping no one would see (you were not yet vegan, but that is another story). After that experience, you will live in a motel for a few months and years down the road find yourself volunteering at a women’s shelter very close to it, the feeling will be bittersweet. Nonetheless, the kids you meet will have a lasting impact and you will regret leaving, but will cherish the lessons you learned together.
You will discover what a terrorist is for the first time in sixth grade, it will be the mirror your peers hold with a reflection of you. You will scrub away your colours like lightening cream until your echo is foreign. You were too different, too much like ‘them’ for their liking. The media dear is a brainwashing machine that you will learn to fight and avoid. After moving three schools you will learn that the third time is not always the charm. The third time will be the gut wrenching experience that you will have nightmares about. As a group of boys pin you to the walls of the playground examining every inch of your body to ensure its authenticity, you will learn that your body is not a given right but rather a fight to be won.
Ok. Before you shy away in tears and start your early mourning I want you to know that I have yet to get to the good part. They often say that you should leave the best for last and that is one cliché I would like to abide by. Remember the times you went around with pen and paper noting strangers’ every move trying to predict their thought and temperaments? Well, you will do something close to this when you are older. It is then that you will find your calling and meet wonderful people that will provide you with the opportunities you need to grow. This will give you the sense of fulfilment you’ve been searching for. You will love and be loved. Your life is a book, some people will stay for a page, some for a chapter, and others are still around today. Learn to see the value in every page but remember that turning back the pages won’t change the outcome. You will be your own best friend, the person always around for the journey. When it gets tough you will write inspiring letters to yourself and always be in awe of your eloquence.
See, I want you to learn of your struggles for they are the most important aspects of you. I am proud of all that went wrong for without it nothing would be right. The thing is, there will always be moments of hardship, your life is a fight, and your existence a struggle. You are a storm; your presence is standing. Easy is not a term you know well. You will know success by the sweat on your brow and the ache in your back. You are fierce; you are fire with endless flame. You will fight, you will win, and you will not have it any other way.