Dear Me:

2012 is halfway over. It has not been your year. Some of the worst possible nightmares have sped, one after the other, at you. Emotionally, for a bit there, you were in the weakest, most vulnerable place. Trauma threatened your home, your relationships, even your health. And you reacted in the way you always have: you zeroed in on one thing and didn’t take your eyes off of it through fire, through tears, through surgery. You woke up every morning and made the first priority making the girls laugh, and feel safe. You cuddled even when there were phone calls to be made, or stuff to clean. You pushed one leg out of the bed, then the other, each morning, and made breakfast, even though death constantly loomed on the horizon. You smiled. I know smiles are important to you. I know it’s how you cling to the illusion that nothing is as bad as your heart thinks it is: I know that belief allows you to keep walking when you don’t want to. But today, as you drove down the road, familiarity seeped into your soul and I wanted to tell you that it’s okay to relax now. You’re safe.

Safety is what you most crave. Emotional, physical, mental safety. I know it. And today, I realized that the battle is over. Death isn’t shadowing you anymore. The edge of loneliness has been dulled. These are good things, but they aren’t the best. The best thing I’ve noticed is that, this last week or so, you have felt more like yourself again. The numbing solution you wrapped our heart is at the onset of the first crisis is wearing off. The sky was brighter today. Music has breached your walls again. Writing is both therapeutic and addictive instead of just an outlet for releasing subdued pain and fear. You don’t have to take a deep breath lately before leaving the house. And morning doesn’t wash your soul in fear. I know it’s hard to let go of the death grip you’ve got on life–small, controlled steps equal fewer ripples, which means less floods. I know. But you heard the song today “Quiet Your Mind.” There comes a point when the sun dries the waters and the dove doesn’t return, signaling safety. The cost of peace is surrender, but it is so worth it. Let go. Breathe out. Lean back and soak in the bubbles a minute or two after the guilt for being so self indulgent comes–fight that thought and stay. Write an extra chapter. Post the drawings without making a self-effacing, laughing caption. Or maybe take a night to do absolutely nothing. Sit on the porch and really listen to the crickets. Buy a star, or two, name it and try to find it. Kiss your daughters and watch them sleep. Re-read that romance novel for the billionth time. Indulge the sentimental memories. Let the house be: there’s no fire, no bullet, nothing you need to check on for the dozenth time. It’s okay… and that’s for real tonight.

I’ve missed you this year. I know it’s been hard not feeling very much like yourself. I know that feeling numbed stops protecting you after awhile and just leaves you exhausted instead. Heed the whispers: this Friday, make going back to Congregation Micah happen. Thank God for the rain this week: standing in it and closing your eyes, you smiled, then cried, because the fire’s over and the rain was just washing the last of the fear and the last of the pain away. After the rain comes the rainbow. The sun seems brighter and people kinder. I’ve missed how you’d stare out at the window and spontaneously pray, thanking God for nothing but the day itself. It was a long awaited moment when you did that today. You’re coming out of the shell you’ve been enclosed in for months upon months now. It makes me happy. It makes me want to throw you a welcome back party. Real strength isn’t about just making it through tests and surgeries, it isn’t just about making it through the storm.. Real strength is also about remembering who you are, remembering the things that are dear and precious to you, remembering and following the habits that are beloved even when the thunder rolls and the lightning strikes. You’ve done that this year. You’ve done that through the worst of it. You never stopped writing. You never told the girls to just go play. You never stopped going to church, or praying, or volunteering. The storm hit you but you picked up the pieces quietly and steadily and you walked on. You wrapped our heart up in numbing medicine because you were scared, but now… Now you’re not rushing to re-apply it. You’re not fearful of the future, or of the possibility of a new crisis coming and breaking your heart again. Instead, you put the song on repeat, you hugged your pillow and consciously searched for the brilliant, summer colors in nature and in the strangers you’ve met. It’s okay. You whispered that to yourself about five times as they wheeled you into the operating room. You’ve whispered it to yourself as tears streamed down your face for all that’s been lost. It wasn’t really true, then. But it is now. I am proud of you, but I want you to enjoy … You. It’s what you would want, and fight for, for the girls. I want you to know that the only rules, other than God’s, that you have to follow are your own. I want you to know no one is holding it against you if you take time to relax and actually enjoy the moment. The only one who thinks you can’t soak for half an hour in a tub, or eat an ice cream sandwich even though you also had lunch is you. The girls won’t forget you because you aren’t going anywhere. The world is right side up. So put your toes in the grass and stand there for a minute to feel it.

Enjoy the newfound energy. Enjoy the time with the girls. Enjoy the writing. And when you think the joy can’t last, when fear whispers that the bubble will bust… Remember that life is a circle and that it’s ok if it does bust because the rainbow will come again. Fear of tomorrow steals today, and you don’t want to teach your girls that lesson. So… While the bubble has you….savor it, enjoy it and know that the words in the song are true: you’re not perfect but you’re worth it.