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Two months ago my therapist had me write a letter to myself from me but from my future self five years from now. When she first told me what she wanted me to do and what I wanted to say was, "seriously, you seriously want me to do this? I have NO idea what I would tell myself from the future or even what I hope my future would look like if I could dream it up!-which of course was the  under lying reason she wanted me to do it. To think about what if? but not in my normal, morbid my person died and the world and I are fragile so hide if you can way.

It took me nearly three of the four weeks between visits to write it. I worked on it in my head for a solid two weeks and the first week all I could think to say to myself was, "you're okay". Which of course we all want to be so that wasn't any big eye opener. But after some time to simmer it did eventually come out. I'm sharing mine in hopes that maybe someone else will try it too. It was helpful to see what I might want the form of life to look like. This was helpful as well because personally I need something, a map of sorts, to know what I'm working towards and this was helpful in that. Specifically, it made me go back to Sunday worship after a very long time away. The letter helped to tentatively build a framework, even if still titled and weak, where there was none.

Dear Flannery,

The first thing I could think of to say to you is that you’re okay. Things are different, you are different, but you are okay. Time has marched on and at times it has felt as if it drug you with it even though you didn’t want to go because each day was a day farther removed from the last time you were with John but with time and lots of effort and many, many tears you have moved forward.

You have become quieter and a better listener. You have more compassion and more strength and certainly more wisdom about what to freak out about and what not to freak out about.

You have carried with you the lessons John taught you, especially the ones about your own self-worth. You are so much braver than you ever thought you could be about drawing boundaries around your time, space and heart. You have endured heartbreak but it has taught you to ask for and demand what you need from others, especially in a potential partner. You demand to be seen for who you are and don’t attempt to mold yourself into someone another person would want or approve of. You can state your needs and wants without feeling guilty or needy.

You have built up, worked hard for and surrounded yourself with a positive group of women and friends. You hold each other up, push each other forward and carry each other when you can’t stand anymore. This group of women has been instrumental in you building a life that feels full and fun and filled with love.

You have found a way to have a more balance life through finding work that feeds your spirit and nourishes the world in your own unique way. You have found purpose by being kind and supportive to others and finding and following things and activities you are passionate about.

You’re not afraid to travel, even alone, you kayak, hike, explore-sometimes even eat out by yourself and feel no shame in being your own best company many days.

You have faced your fears about starting a business and being able to “make it”. You were incredibly brave when you walked away from a secure and stable job into the unknown but with that step you were able to become filled up and joyful again. With that decision you found a way to enter a world of a more holistic nature and feel truer to yourself.

You’ve learned to navigate your kitchen and actually enjoy it again. You are more organized and less scattered than you were for so long after John died. You are more aware of the world and its gifts and are even more grateful for them.

You’ve found a spiritual community that feeds you and you are excited to be a part of. You still practice meditation and yoga. You have been able through these practices to listen more intently to your own soul and hear what its desires and needs are and to hear where it guides you to go.

You have kept your love alive for John and your relationship lives on in a new way, his spirit is now a guiding force in your path and decisions you make. You’ve been able to tap into his knowledge, call to his spirit and have a new relationship with him where his presence is felt and his love is known but you are still able to move forward.

You have someone in your life to love and who loves you. Someone to hug and kiss and share with. Someone to talk to at the end of the day and enjoy the daily things with. You may not get married again, but you will not be lonely. You have surrounded yourself with friends, family and a special person who makes life feel full and fun again.

You are changed. You are forever changed by the sorrow that John’s death brought to you. You still miss him, sometimes you still cry for missing him and his loss, you still love him and you know that he still loves you and in that knowledge you are able to be brave and courageous and try to dream big dreams and seek joy. And you are okay, after all the fears and sobs and heartache that John’s death brought, even though you are forever changed, you are okay.

I am always here for you and I love you,

Flannery 

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Comment by laurajay on May 28, 2014 at 1:28pm

Oh Flan  I so understand.  While not attending book club parties  I find that in the dark tunnel of grief where I have had no choice but to find myself, I can and do move forward because there is only memory behind me and nothing to build the rest of my life on...forward there is light and voices calling me...maybe the voices of my grandchildren beckoning me to come join them in play or a voice of a stranger who needs me for some yet undetermined reason, maybe an old friend or an old person destined to become a new friend, and amusingly so  maybe a new love.  Most likely it is the voice of our many faceted Master  seeking a closer walk with me and waiting for me to take His hand and keep on going...  Something to say yes to that will endure the journey with me and bring me into the light again.

If you get the opportunity to read Richard Rohr  Everything Belongs  or any of his other writings I know you would enjoy the read.   Love, Lj 

Comment by flannery on May 28, 2014 at 5:56am

Hi Laurajay,

I am like you in that I believe in allowing God to move me where I need to go and am surprised often where that is! The letter did help me though to pinpoint what is actually important to me and was beneficial in the way that I then put what little energy I have into those things such as worship but also last week a big welcome summer party that my book club puts on for everyone and their families. I didn't go last year-too sad, too soon-but having identified how important this group is to me I made the effort, albeit somewhat heroic effort after a long week, but was so glad I did. Tired but filled in a different way I cried on the way home from that party out of gratitude for the continued support and love of them even after my mostly absence for this last year and a half. So for me it's been a good tool to look at my life and see if there is something in should say yes to that in have been saying no to. I hope you are finding some peace in the warming weather and growing things. I wish we were closer and could go for a cup of tea and a chat! Sending you hugs.

Comment by laurajay on May 27, 2014 at 3:56pm

Dear Flan,  Interesting assignment.  I guess in my mind being older I would have to seriously consider all the added physical limitations that would come my way...grief or not. Also, by my nature of letting God surprise me with challenges  I would choose to keep the element of His impact on my today and every day forward so I would not limit God by trying to project myself into the future and guess at things that will come to be by stating them in written words.  I talk the  "little  me" already assuring little Laura that she is indeed OK and that she is loved and understood and never alone.  I think when we are told as widows to take care of ourselves  this is part of what we have to do/ we are called to do.   if we were neighbors  I believe we would be friends.  I do enjoy your posts very much.  Love Laura

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