When Dylan was born (over thirteen years ago), I felt (as all mother do) the most urgent, primal need to keep her and myself safe for as long as humanly possible. Being a new mother, the acute awareness that life is fleeting and can be rudely snatched away at a moment’s notice became an overwhelming blanket of fear. Who are we to be the ones who escape tragedy? Who’s to say I won’t be sideswiped on the streets of LA on one of my too many errands, killed in one fell swoop, leaving my daughter (now daughters) to live a motherless life? Could my husband possibly fill the void? Would my beloved friends be diligent in their promised reminders to my girls how much their mother loved them? Am I so full of ego to believe I can escape that fate? This, of course, led to a deeper, necessary, more spiritual shift wherein I needed (so as not to live life hanging in morbidity) to truly feel in my bones and heart that not just I, but my daughter also, have a higher power. I am not her higher power. That realization almost made me giddy with relief.
She has a path.
Her very own.
As much as I try to clear it, rake it, widen it, soften it, she has a path. In spite of me. But in those early months where it truly felt like just me and her, despite the whirling around us of other loved ones, including my husband, the fact that there she was, actually growing, thriving and sleeping, not just spiritually, but actually connected to me for what truly felt like, and often was, 24/7, save the few times I actually showered or didn’t take her to the bathroom with me. It really was just us. Her and me. And I would stare at her endlessly thinking, “She HAS to know how much I love her. She just HAS to.” Because, God forbid, that truck sideswiping does come down the pike, she needs evidence of my enduring love.
Thus, the letter.
I imagined the letter a thousand times. Truth be told, it was actually a book in my mind. Dear Dylan, it was so cleverly titled by my sleep deprived self. It would be filled with chapters and chapters, not just of love declarations, but all of my gathered up wisdom having walked the planet (at that time) for thirty-two years. This book, this figment of my imagination, would be chock full of all the life lessons I had gleaned and would be hers for the learning, should I perish. Everything from cute ways to do your hair, to how to handle getting your period, to choosing an amazing career that makes you proud and fulfilled, to not picking the assholes, to study strategies, to honing, listening and trusting that gut instinct that could keep you alive if/when evil every lurked, to finding joy in the most challenging times. So many chapters.
And, yet, I never started the book.
Of course it was a book in my mind. Ever the overachieving perfectionist, it was a book or nothing at all. And so life charged on, days turning in to weeks, weeks to years and so on. She grew and thrived, and no one got sideswiped by a truck.
But, of course, the unwritten chapters still lingered in my mind.
Cut to present day. Thirteen plus years later. Preschool and kindergarten long gone, Dylan now deep in middle school, now a big sister to Luna, three years her junior.
But still no letter.
A lot transpired in those years, including my shift away from trial lawyer to full time yoga teacher. I felt my calling to teach beyond the asana, to the deeper work that would inspire a life well lived, one of kindness and joy peppered and intermingled with the mundane necessities.
And, finally, one day, that was it.
“WRITE THE DAMN LETTER!” literally whooped me upside the head.
I dropped my purse, walked to my computer, and the words poured out of me. Words of the deepest, most enduring love. Words designed to convince my girls that whether I lived a million years or died that day, that the love I felt in my heart for them was more enduring than our physical selves. I begged them to walk the world knowing that I was with them, enveloping them in love every moment of every day. I asked them to be willing to lean on their dad because I knew he loved them as much as I did, but might not be as good as I was at expressing it. I asked them to be willing to accept love from my best friends who promised on more than one long, teary run alongside the ocean that they would help fill the void created by losing a mother. I reminded them how much their aunts Bonnie, Kendall, Paula and Amy (my very best friends and soul sisters) loved them and how they would be honored to be in their lives.
But the point is, I wrote it. The words hit the paper in relief at finally being freed from my being. It was huge and cathartic, and it literally took no more than twenty minutes.
I had waited thirteen years to write a twenty minute letter.
I wasn’t NOT writing the letter that whole time. I was raising daughters and doing dishes and working and driving all over town all day every day and packing snacks and making dinner… you get the idea. There were very few, if any, moments of down time, where something didn’t require tending. There were no moments with my feet up on the couch, and when night fell, all I could do was run, not walk to bed.
It didn’t have to be a book. Maybe one day it will be, but not today. I knew that if I hadn’t written this letter, and that fateful, clichéd, morbid ending should strike me, that my last thought would be, “FUCK!!! I DIDN’T WRITE THE DAMN LETTER!”
So I finally did. I printed it out. Signed it in ink. Sealed it in an envelope and put it in our safe. Hopefully, no one ever has to read the lette