I’ve been thinking a lot, even more than I normally do, about my daughters. About the trials and tribulations that, by necessity it would seem, visit every life. About how each and every one of these pains feel insurmountable to them right now. They are not. But neither of them know that yet. So this: an open letter to my girls (and maybe to you, as well).

Sweet girl:

I know you hold a picture in your mind as to how your story “should” go, at the very least, how you want it to go. It might be one you began to create when you were so very young (which doesn’t seem all that long ago to me) – nurtured and nuanced over these past years: you’ll be safe, you’ll be nurtured, you’ll be protected, you’ll be loved. It might be more specific: the white picket fence, the 2.5 kids, the perfect job-body-marriage-bank account. And it might be all of these and then some – including a strong-and-sustained sense of what, quite frankly, just seems right and fair: happiness, ease, satisfaction, fun, and a lack of struggle and pain. There’s nothing wrong with these pictures. They are beautiful manifestations of your desire, your longing for all that’s possible, your hope.

But reality doesn’t always (if often) comply. Life doesn’t always (if often) go as planned, dreamed, or even pictured.

And when that dissonance arrives? I know, sweet girl: it hurts.

“So?” you ask. “Now what?”

Maybe, for now, allowing the hurt is what matters most. It’s completely acceptable: feeling sad and forlorn, lost and confused, discombobulated by the curves thrown your way. Yes, for now.

“For how long?”

I wish I knew.

But here’s what I do know:

You let go, or at least loosen your grip on how it all “should” be. Even more, you hold on – with all the conviction and determination you can muster. Yes, this I know for sure: you hold on to you.

That is enough. Because you are.

You are strong enough to weather any set-back – including this one. You are brave enough to manage every emotion – whether fleeting or seeming to take up roost. You are tenacious enough to grab onto the tail end of hope and wrangle it back into its rightful place in your psyche, your perspective, your present tense. You are tender enough to make room for grief while trusting its healing power. You are bold enough to get up again tomorrow, to stand tall, to face all that awaits (within and without), and to step forward – no matter how tentatively – into the life that is yours, the one that spreads out before you in all its unknown, in all its possibility, and yes, right now, in all its poignant ache.
I know you aren’t buying most of this, that you don’t quite believe me. Not yet. That’s OK.

In the meantime, you can hold on to me. Because I do know a few things that I’ll hold in trust and reserve until you are ready to try them on and take them in:  

  • Things don’t always go as planned and they do get better. I promise.
  • What feels like forever, isn’t. I promise.
  • What seems a mess, might very well be, but it will turn into beauty. I promise.
  • Every bit of this is part of your story, a chapter you’ll look back on fondly (eventually) – aware that it formed you in profound and powerful ways. I promise.
  • It won’t always hurt as much as it does right now. I promise.
  • Though you doubt me in this moment, I’m right about this: you are more than enough. I promise.

Little consolation, I get it. Still, my heart on your behalf. Still and again, hold on, sweet girl. When things don’t go as planned you can rest assured that you are yet to live into a picture, a story, and a life beyond imagining.

How can I say such a thing with any degree of confidence, let alone sanity? Well, almost exclusively because of you.

When I was your age, I could not have possibly imagined a picture, story, or life that was big enough, vast enough, amazing enough to include you. I could not have dreamed this big or believed I could love this deeply. And I could not have known that I was enough to bear my own disappointments, shattered dreams, mislaid plans, and broken hearts. But I was. And I am.

As are you.

So hold on, sweet girl. I promise: it’s all going to be OK.