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Letter to friend's child

Monday 7/5/21

Rem-Dawg!!!! Arf afr! C-Dawg here. Fear not, I won't call you Remalicious, as that doctor does. I know you think she sucks. I agree. Am I allowed to say sucks? Oh well--it's done. We must be mature about these things.

So. I just wanted to send you a little note. Simply someone else's perspective. From the outside looking in. Obviously we don't know each other, but I feel like I know a lot about you. For instance, I know you're really smart. Not just because of what your dad tells me, but the way he talks about you. And let's be honest, your dad kind of rips on a lot of people and he's not exactly a generous guy with the compliments. I'm joking. Well, it's still best to be realistic.

And I also know that you feel things deeply. I know you had a really hard time when your grandmother passed. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know what a kind person she was. And I get feeling things deeply. Believe me, I understand. And that can be a really good thing, and also a hard thing, but mostly a really special thing. Because not a lot of people feel things that deeply. They tend to be on the surface of life. But it's deeper down that the good stuff is. The important stuff. The wonderful stuff. The miracle stuff. The beautiful stuff. And you get to experience that. And because I know you're a nice person, you're someone who'll be able to help others experience that. People who might not have if they didn't know someone like you.

But it can also be hard. I get that, too. I know some tips, though! And I wanted to share them with you. Because I think we have a few things in common.

I know you really don't want to wear this brace for you back and wear it out in public. And I get that you think people will probably be looking at you and thinking whatever. And it probably seems daunting and overwhelming right now. And scary.

Here's the thing, Remy. And this is a very true thing. But it's not a thing people talk about. I used to wonder if anyone else knew this thing. I don't think many do. And then it's like a secret. But a secret I'm going to share with you.

Everyone has their things. This back brace isn't your thing. It's something you have to wear for a little bit in your life, so that you'll be healthy and comfortable and all of that good stuff later on. Which is going to be the bulk of your life--the later on. But everyone has their things that they think about a lot. That they think others care about a lot. That they want to hide. That they think others are thinking about, too, and judging them, and thinking awful things.

Everyone thinks this way, Rem. It's where a lot of people's thoughts go in life. And it can warp them, and make them into things, in time, that aren't so great.

These people--and people in general--aren't going to be thinking twice about this brace you're wearing. They're wrapped up in their own stuff. Now, I know me saying that doesn't magically make you feel awesome about this. You don't need to feel awesome right away. Everything is a process. Everything in this life, Remy. And even good things. Even the best things. Writing a story is a process. Painting a picture is a process. Building a friendship is a process. Being a good sister is a process. Sometimes the process isn't a long one. What matters is that we partake of the process. We can go slowly, we can move at our own speed, but we find that when we trust ourselves, when we believe in ourselves, and we're helped out by the people who care about us--like you are with your dad and your mom--the processes that give us concern and frighten us become a lot easier. And we feel good about ourselves.

And then we look back and think, huh, that wasn't that bad after all.

I want to tell you one other thing. This is an even bigger secret. I've learned this, because I've lived it. No one told me this. It's something I've experienced.

People will often tell me I'm very brave. They'll tell me this because I share things about myself. I'm open. I don't hide them. To be honest with you, it has never entered my mind to hide them. Sometimes the things I share are things I'm scared of. Things that I don't want to happen to me. Or they can be about bad things that have happened to me that have hurt me a lot.

But I've learned that when you're just yourself, and you put that out there, people will respect you in a way that is beyond, I think, maybe any other kind of respect there is. I'm not sure. I'd have to think about it. But no one thinks, "Eh, they're weak," or "there's something wrong with them!"

If someone says something dumb to you, that's about them. It's not about you. If someone gives you a hard time about this. You almost really have to feel bad for them. But don't feel bad for yourself.

When I was a kid, I had a babysitter who had the same thing you do. The brace, all of it. Actually, braces were bigger back then. I thought she was the coolest. Smart and funny and pretty. I never ever thought about the brace she wore. I just knew that she had to wear it for a while and then she'd not wear it anymore. It was just a non-topic. I don't remember ever thinking about it.

Don't be scared to tell your dad anything, too. About how you feel, anything. Okay? I'm sure you know that, but I've known your dad for a long time--more than twice the length of your life!--and he's good that way. I've cried in front of your dad, I've shared everything with him. And if you ever want another perspective, feel free to hop on the phone sometime when you're in the car with him, or you can put my number in your phone and text me and I'll help you with anything you might need.

Hang in there, Remy. Have a great summer.


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