The picture your mind has painted of the near future has since been washed over with different colors and textures and patterns. Your life doesn’t look the way you imagined it would. But no amount of planning or visualizing can make you an expert at predicting what comes next. You should know that by now having become somewhat of an expert at planning your life out only to see it unfold in wildly different ways. You’ve spent nearly 30 years brooding about the past, living for the future and not always being present.
Right now you’re probably packing for your upcoming trip to New York and fretting about whether the blue party dress you bought is the right thing to wear to your cousin’s wedding. As excited as you are about this trip, there are heavy feelings you’re having a hard time explaining. You will come to realize it is because you’re going to visit with family you haven’t seen since your dad’s funeral. It is difficult to stir up that pain, but it will bring you comfort and joy to feel close to them again. You’ll think about your dad every day, and it won’t ever get easier to live without him. But you will recognize your dad in your uncle’s face in a way you never have before. And there will be peace in that. (Oh, and the blue dress will be perfect.)
When you go to Niagara Falls, don’t stand in line for the boat ride. Skip it. Otherwise you’ll end up standing there for hours, nearly peeing your pants and then thinking better of it and leaving to head back to visit with family. What a waste of 36 bucks.
Call your friends. Stop making excuses and reach out to the people you’ve let yourself lose touch with.
Keep writing. The timing of this letter is poetic in a way, because it’s been about a year since I’ve written a blog post. It’s been almost a year since I’ve written anything, and you will come to know how unsatisfying that can feel. How writing can be as easy as breathing, but the longer you go without picking up a pen, the heavier it gets. Every day. Just do it.
Don’t stress about getting pregnant. It will happen. Very soon. I promise.
Kya will be okay. There will be some tough roads for her, but she will endure as she always does. Her resiliency will amaze you. But you really should snuggle her more.
Enjoy your friends in Orlando. They’re some of the best people you will ever know, and you won’t always be a short drive away.
Celebrate with Kelsey when she finds happiness and love again. And when she has that third baby she swore she’d never have.
Hug your mom through the unfair circumstances that prove once again she is the strongest person you’ll ever know.
Place some sort of GPS tracker on your bike.
Stand back and take a good look at the extraordinary person your husband has become. You’ve always admired his strength, his work ethic and his ability to balance everything with such poise. Well, now he is really a sight to see. (And he’s as easy on the eyes as he ever was).
When the time comes, write down where you packed your iron. For the love of god.
Don’t even bother trying the peach-pear La Croix.
Take more photos for fun, take fewer for money. It’s easier to lose interest in the things you love after you’ve labeled them as work.
Be thankful. Your life is good. Enjoy it. Enjoy it when you’re with people you love and also when you’re alone. There’s freedom in solitude. There’s beauty in a quiet room. You’re ready to move beyond these things, but you’ll miss them.
These words have swirled around inside your head a thousand times, but here it is, number one-thousand-and-one: let yourself be happy. You have so many reasons to be happy. Life won’t always be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still good. Great, even. And beautiful. Here’s what your life looks like now.
That’s all for now, because some things are better left as surprises.
Oh, and Whitney? Be gentle on yourself, okay? No one gives or takes a beating the way you do. You’re strong and you can handle it, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
P. S. Always use the hand rail when going down the stairs at Ashley’s.