May 17th was my 44th birthday. I spent it surrounded by friends and family and smiled and laughed and had an amazing time. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday.
It also celebrated a very important milestone for me … because 22 years ago I was in the ICU. It is where I ended my 22nd birthday and spent over a week before they released me from the hospital. I am truly lucky that I survived that night at all.
The fact that I am alive 22 years later – and having lived a life broad and varied and so amazingly full of blessings – has given me perspective.
I look back on the person I was, the person I have become, and the folks who have helped guide me, bring energy and vitality and drive into my life, and truly shown me love and kindness along the way. I have learned so much in 22 years.
A few years ago I picked up a book titled Letters to My Younger Self. I’ve wanted to write one of my own ever since. And perhaps now is a very good time. Here is what I would say …Dear Christine – Right now you are scared and alone and so very, very sad. It will get better. Life isn’t all roses and beauty, so it will also get worse before it evens out. In about 10 years you will wonder for a few weeks and months if it is possible to die from the betrayal and loss you feel. And then it will get better. Lots better. LOADS better. You will watch your little girl turn into a woman full of beauty and talent – a writer and an artist, just like you. Except that right now, you don’t even know that’s in your future. You have this craving, this overwhelming desire to write, and you don’t know if you are good enough. And oh my goodness, girl, you have no idea that you really CAN create art. You ARE a writer and an artist – look out, ‘cause it is going to be a phenomenal journey. Fame and fortune hasn’t followed, but you have a gift for words, one that continues to be nurtured every day. Folks will come to classes you teach, ask you for a list of every class and show up to every one, because they really like your teaching style. How is that for amazing?! You will have a beautiful younger daughter that changes your life just as much as that little girl you love so much now. This second one has challenged you to be more outgoing, and meet more people than you ever thought possible. And alongside her is your husband, the boy you admired from afar during those confusing teenage years. He’s even better than you remembered, having grown and become a man who you could trust and love and depend on. Soon you will leave the hospital, return to a rented room in a tiny apartment, and wonder where in the world your life is going. Whether it is truly worth being alive, and whether or not you are a good person, a decent mother, a human being worth knowing. You are. I promise you that, in the space of 22 years you will learn SO MUCH. You will become someone worthy of friendship, of happiness. You will hear the words, “You have changed my life, I’m better for having met you, for having you in my life.” Not just once, but many times. Words cannot express how that will make you feel when you do hear it. I promise you this. Keep dreaming, Christine. Keep writing, and learning and loving. Eventually, it will all fall into place. You will realize that the bad moments morph into lessons learned and the good memories move to the forefront of your existence. I wish I could place this letter in your hands and tell you this. I wish I could make you believe that … You are worthy. You are loved. You are needed. So hang in there, girl. Keep getting back up. Life is amazing. You never know what is around the next corner.