I wrote Abigail a letter some time ago, but I never posted it. Mostly, because it's personal, but this is meant to be a special Journal of Abbie's life, written for Abbie, about Abbie.
My recent personal loss has changed my attitude about posting this letter: I am no writer, and my ability to express myself poetically and with eloquence is virtually non-existent. But it doesn't matter. These are words of love, and as such, I offer them to my daughter. It's never too early, and never too late.
Dear Daughter of Mine:
This is not the first letter I have written you. I wrote you before you were born, during a time when it was just the two of us making your way into the world. But ever since I saw your little pretty face and held you close to my heart, I have been thinking long and hard about Life. You will have so many questions for me, I know, and I find myself unprepared to face them.
Millions of mothers have been and will be in this very same situation: hoping for the best with every breath, and doing all they can to be a guide, a rock, a safe harbor for their sons and daughters. In everything I do, Abigail, I try to be just that. I try to help you understand this big, overwhelming world a little better every day. I am with you every minute of every day, holding you, kissing you, helping you to your feet, to get to your toys, telling you how much I love you, and what an amazing surprise you are to me.
I speak to you every day. I tell you what I am doing, where we are going, what I am eating, how your toys work, what color things are, how soft your skin is, how beautiful you are. I guess, in a way, I talk so much now because it takes time to get used to sharing what goes on in one's head, and I am not the sort of person who opens up easily, I used to be, but not anymore. So I am training myself: I have started sharing with you the simplest of things - to get used to the sound of my own voice before the big truths can be said. It's like learning to walk: one foot before the other. It sounds easy, but you know it's really not. As you stumble your way to standing up on your own, as you move your first, insecure steps when I hold you by the hands, you know how hard it is to walk on your own two feet.
In a way, I feel relieved: all that can be said about life has been said, very well and with amazing compassion. Far better than I ever could attempt to. Sometimes it feels as though all one needs to do is read some books, listen to a couple of talk shows to grasp the value of many a human experiences. Ha! I wish. I am, and always have been, constantly wondering about life, and if you are anything like me, I know that you will too.
You will wonder about love. And all I can really tell you is: hold on tight to those who truly love you.
You will wonder about friendship. All I can tell you is: hold on tight to those who truly are your friends.
They are the most important of human treasures. The ones you will need the most, and the ones you will find refuge in when you will need it most.
As such, they will be, sometimes, the hardest people to find. My Abbie: I'm naive and trusting and that's gotten me in trouble and in pain more times than I care to count. I have loved people who did not truly love me. I have wasted friendship on people who did not deserve the time of day. Sometimes, my beautiful girl, people are not really interested in getting to know and understand you. And facing that disappointment is painful. But I have come to the realization that this is the circle of life: you give, you receive, and sometimes those interchanges are not equal in value and meaning. Please don't be afraid of offering what you have to give, never shy away from giving what you can. But what makes my heart soar as your mother is the realization that I need to help you to be strong: so that you can always be happy and serene, so that you will not have to face the fears, self-doubts and disappointments I've endured because of my inability to correctly judge the worth of people and circumstances. I want to teach you to use your discernment to sort out the good from the bad. You must learn that you cannot be loved by all people. But those who do love you, would give anything for you to be happy. You must learn that not everyone is a true friend: some will use you, while pretending to be a friend. Don't waste your time on less than true friendship. Let those people go, my love, because nothing good ever came from a lie, nothing worth holding on to ever came from superficiality.
And more, I want you to understand the importance of remembering, of holding onto and even cherishing what you are as events are thrust upon you during the course of your life. For all too often, with increasing strength, insecurities and confusion about your own worth will seek to obliterate you -- this is something I hope you will never let happen.
Always enjoy the implicit order found in life: there is one.
Be principled and ethical, but never self-righteous. Be proud, but never prideful. Be honest, be generous, be courageous, be brave.
Don't ever compromise your fundamental rights. Don't ever let anyone convince you that a cause cannot be won. Any cause for the improvement of this world and of humanity should be fought for, and can be won. Remember that so much is lost when we cannot summon the courage of our convictions: because it may take time and it may be painful, but nothing of value has ever been attained without struggle.
Don't be afraid to fail, and don't ever let anyone tell you that you have failed. Consider setbacks learning opportunities. Some of history's greatest advances have been achieved out of frustration and setbacks yielding to perseverance. Use every lesson in life to your advantage: learn from it.
Don't ever judge people because of their race, their culture, their gender, their orientation, personal beliefs, or even physical disabilities and flaws. Don't ever let other people's preconceived notions become your own. Rather, infer value based on actions, qualities and merits.
Remember that everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, but not everyone deserves a second chance. You might have to make this tough call, one day. But you will need to make it. Don't ever treat anyone as if they did not matter. But don't let anyone ever treat you as if you don't matter. Walk away, chin up, from people who do not care about your worth, about the contributions that you bring.
There will be regrets, and to live without regrets only means not having lived at all, not having, ever, taken a risk on something or someone. That notwithstanding, I hope you will never have regrets based on poor judgement, or on ill behavior. Those are the regrets that you can avoid. Do. Avoid them.
These words of mine may sound like common platitudes, and they maybe they are. But I truly believe in what I am telling you. I believe that life is worth living at its fullest, with all its implied risks and chances.
No life, ever, has been without tribulation, loss, and recession. I want yours to be meaningful. I want you to give and receive true love. I want you to have friends, and loved ones, and dear ones. I want you to have no regrets for not having tried your very best.
I, too, have no regrets. For in you I see the future.
I love you,
May 31, 2008