Our Story Begins:
A Letter to My Past
As the fall grows closer, contributor Dave Manoucheri looks at his past, and writes a letter to himself, to remind himself of things he wishes he hadn’t forgotten after losing his wife, Andrea in 2011:
I write this from your not-so-distant future because I think you need it. I know things can get hard, even exhausting, but I want you to know that they aren’t always what they seem. They are definitely never as bad as they seem.
You’ve had times, both frustrating and amazing with Andrea, your wife. I want you to appreciate all of them. Yes . . . even the frustrating ones. I know you can get angry and sad, and feel like things have gotten really hard staying married and caring for four kids. It’s easy to give up or give in to anger. Sometimes it feels like the kids or the minutiae of the day have taken over. Don’t let them. As hard as it is right now, believe me when I tell you that you haven’t faced anything yet.
Related: Why Failure Is An Option For My Kids
I want you to appreciate your wife more than you do. As I write this, we are feeling fall’s approach, the color of the sky turning a bit hazy and the leaves starting to change color. This is the time of year she decorated the house and grew nostalgic and always wore that big, fuzzy, brown sweater. You poked fun of her wearing it, but I know you secretly loved holding her in your arms when she she did. Every time you rake the leaves and come inside to see her sitting at the table with a hot cup of coffee in her hands, I want you to put your hand on her cheek and kiss her. Deeply. Kiss her like you did when you met her, with passion and abandon. The girls will say “awww….” And the boys will go “eewwww…” but they will all remember that you did it. She’ll ask you why and all you need to say is, “Because.”
Tell her she’s beautiful. Particularly first thing in the morning. Even more when she thinks she’s not.
Ask Andrea as many questions as you possibly can! Try your best to understand how she dealt with menstrual cramps and parental disappointment. Quietly show her that her giving in to your sons is causing consternation that will make life for me quite unbearable at times. Ask her how she dealt with homecoming and prom and boys and pressure to have sex from boyfriends and how to do makeup and, for the love of God, how the hell to stop the colors from bleeding in the wash! Ask her what she wanted in a guy – and don’t let her just say, “You” because I know “you” and I want more for your daughters. I want your sons to be that guy . . . so lead by example. I’m sorry to tell you this, but you need to appreciate all you have and learn to do as much without it. Keep the loving but firm hand you have with your kids. They’ll need it.
Play music. Lots of it. Andrea will try to convince you not to but don’t listen. Play a lot . . . you’ll need it, because . . .
I have to warn you, the future will be very dark for a time. You are going to hurt your kids, in the worst possible way, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You will bring them news that shatters their world . . . but you will help them glue it back together. The collage you make from the shattered pieces will never look the same, but in some ways life will be better. You will make necessary decisions that will frustrate and anger them. They will suffer and carry weight that would cause Atlas himself to shudder. They will carry it, though, and they will see you have the conviction and strength to hold them up, even if you, yourself, doubt that.
As the weather changes along with the colors of the surrounding landscape here, please grow those memories with your kids and your wife. Take them to new heights and new adventures so that I have more pleasant memories than dark ones.
I have lived more of your life than you know is coming. Help me to appreciate all that I had . . . so I can continue to thrive with what I have left.
Dave from your future
Do you look back and wonder what if? What should I or could I have done? Do you appreciate what you have? Could you do with a letter from your future?
NOW, YOUR TURN! In the comments section, what would you include in a letter to yourself written from a few years back?
(Editor’s Note: This piece originally ran 9/8/13)