I know that getting this letter is making you roll your eyes and think about how much you hate the space time continuum story lines in science fiction, but hear me out. There are so many things that I want to tell you, but not enough time or paper in the world to say them all so I'll just stick to what's important.
At 20 years old, you like to think of yourself as self-sufficient, and to a large degree you are but things are going to change in the next few months. You will have to dig deep inside yourself to make it through 1992 and 1993, because you are going to face things that you never dreamed in your short life. When Mama walks through that door on New Year's Eve 1991 and tells you with tears in her eyes that the biopsy results were positive and that you have cancer, do not brush her off. Do not pretend that everything is okay and that you don't care. Let her hold and comfort you. You aren't a mother yet, so you don't understand the basic need to hold and comfort your children, but one day you will and you'll feel ashamed that you denied her the opportunity to do it.
On the same note, when Patrick and Ronna question the need for a exploratory laparotomy and splenectomy in the coming weeks, LISTEN to them. Mama and Daddy are doing the best they can with the information they have, but don't do it! The surgery will be brutal, the recovery excruciating and your bellybutton will be in a different spot. Trust me, you will look at that 14 inch scar every day wishing you had done things differently, not to mention the fact that your 4 year old thinks your bellybutton placement is really funny.
You can't avoid the radiation and chemo, but you will get through it. Again, stop trying to be so self-sufficient and let people help you. Don't turn them down when they offer to take you to treatment, and when they want to do things for you. Doing it yourself doesn't always make you stonger...it makes you exhausted and weak. You will learn as you get older that letting others do for you can be just as satisfying as doing for others. Denying help from those who are concerned about you builds a wall around yourself that can be hard to climb after a while, and people just stop trying.
Right now you think that Aaron hung the moon and that he is the boy you are going to marry. You get lost in those brown eyes, and you just love his family, but he is going to break your heart into a million little pieces for no other reason than he couldn't handle the fact that you have cancer. He's not worth the pain, and you have so much more waiting for you. As a matter of fact, when Trevor asks you to go to Mizell Lake with him, say yes every time. I know you guys are just friends, but he will become the complete and total love of your life. He will be the father of your two beautiful children (please stop rolling your eyes), and he will complete your life in ways you can't even imagine.
Most importantly, when you get out on your own, save us both a lot of heartache, and do two things. First, rip up any and all credit card offers that you get in the mail. I know you think you are living large with your $1000 every two weeks, and that opening accounts at Marshall Fields, Speigel, Macy's and Target is a incredibly good idea, but I promise it's not! Save your money and live within your means. The decision to purchase all your towels from Speigel, and putting all of your Christmas gifts one year on that credit card will haunt you for the next decade. If you can't afford to pay cash, you can't afford it.
Secondly, trust God. Keep Him at the center of your life, and get involved in a church. Meet other people your age that you can hang out with and share your hopes and dreams. Stay away from Zack, even though you think he is the one that will heal your heart after Aaron. He is no good for you and you will just fall further and further away from God during your time with him. I promise that all those million pieces will be put back together when you find yourself staring into Trevor's green eyes on the day of your wedding, knowing that you finally found the one God intended for you.
Finally, I know that you feel a little lost right now. You've been diagnosed with a terrible disease, pulled out of college and are living at home while you receive treatment. You feel like a failure. Although no one suspects, you are in a bit of a depression about how your life has turned out. Let me tell you...your life isn't going to be anything like you planned! You will not get your degree in microbiology, but you will find fulfillment in treating fellow cancer patients for a living. You will not marry the man you thought, but you will have joy like you've never experienced. Although you think you don't want children, being with Trevor will change that forever. You will want his children, and will never experience a more pure love than when you look in their eyes for the first time. Your life is not over...you will have the life God intended for you and it will be more than you ever dreamed.
PS Be sure to give Uncle Tellius and Gramps extra hugs and kisses every time you see them. You'll wish you'd had one more chance when they are gone.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Beth started this meme here, and then I saw it here and here, and decided to thow caution to the wind and participate. I had all sorts of funny things framed in my mind, but as I wrote it became more focused. I really wish that I could have read these things 20 years ago so that I could have avoided some heart breaking experiences, but then I wouldn't be the person I am today without them. But at least this advice might have eased the way a bit and erased a few of the big regrets in my life.