Our Story Begins:
A Letter to the Future
I wrote a letter in 2013, a letter to my past.
That may not seem such a big deal, but the thoughts and struggles it represented seemed to resonate. What got me thinking in the last few weeks, though, was how much we actually dwell so deeply on the past. Is that right? Should we?
The answer I came to is . . . yes and no. (Ever the journalist, finding middle-ground)
I started writing here on Good Enough Mother because Rene asked whether you’d want to have a crystal ball to see your future. Having just lost my wife a few months prior my answer was an unequivocal “no.” That doesn’t mean I don’t have hopes and dreams of what the future holds. When I lost my wife in 2011 my future was minute-by-minute, not by hour nor day nor week. Now, though, now things are so different.
Instead of looking back, I wrote another letter. This one is to my future:
By the time you read this, you’ll have watched four kids leave home and start their own lives. Where some look at this as an “empty nest” with sadness and troubles I actually hope my feelings haven’t changed from when I write this: I am excited. Well, I’m scared to death, but I’m excited.
I’m scared because I’m worried about money. I know, I’ve always been worried about money and constantly wish I’d saved more, invested more, did a better job. Dying is expensive, I learned, and there just weren’t any savings left after everything. I’m trying right now, so please don’t hate your past for the fiscal decisions I had to make to survive. There are four kids, four college educations, four weddings (maybe) and the bank account never gets bigger. It shrinks.
I anticipate, though, the amazing things you’ve gotten to do. I assume you’ve gotten to see your oldest daughter’s first play. Was she a director, or actor? I know it was brilliant, I’m confident she did well. I just am excited to see her happy. She struggled with the decision, wanting to fulfill her mother’s wishes and go into a medical field and not theater. But seeing her in the theater…I’ve never seen her happier. By the same note, I’ll bet my middle daughter finally started a band and started gigging. I hope she dragged you onstage with her once in awhile. I’ll dream my son now works for Laika in Portland on the next Box Trolls movie, or is the next Ray Harryhausen. I worry about his twin, though, he is so good at so many things but hasn’t found his passion yet. I hope he finds it, or several of them. They all still struggle with having lost their Mom.
You might take a different job. I hope you made good on your threat: picking up the guitar, amplifier, and touring the world with a band of your choosing. Music has become such a major part of my life again. I want it to be that way forever.
I worry about the future. The kids are strong, very strong, but as much as those sinews hold and grasp to solid ground there are days that they can be just as delicate as a frozen flower petal. It’s important that I remember that where I lost a wife – they lost a mother. That, in some ways is a bigger deal than anything. The crying Mom at their wedding or the soft hugs at their successes – those just won’t happen. I hope they know you empathize with what they’re missing.
I hope they come to terms with the fact I don’t want to be alone. I was with one woman for many years. We married too young in many ways. I have already bravely asked some women out, been rejected, and the sting is far duller than it was years ago. No rejection is more painful than what we’ve been through so what is there to lose? I want to have fun. I want to meet a beautiful woman on a train and spend the day wandering a foreign city. I want to give someone thoughtful gifts and not what was on the Amazon home page. I want to share my life and live life with another. Right now only half the kids are ready to even entertain that possibility. That makes every encounter that much harder. Please tell me that gets at least a bit easier. I hope the fact I’m moving forward anyway doesn’t cause you more headaches.
I want to travel, visit strange places and try insane things. I want to have new stories to tell my kids and their kids.
I want, you see, to live.
I hope you have lived.
Do you worry about your future? What do you think about what’s coming?