Dear future self 2015,
Remember to be humble when you accept the Nobel Prize for Literature and don’t forget to thank your husband and daughters for putting up with your mercurial artistic temperament and your propensity for squeezing the toothpaste tube from the middle.
Yes, the selection committee created a new category for you, it’s called Canadian-Literature-That-Doesn’t-Depress-The-Shit-Out-Of-You-And-May-Or-May-Not-Feature-Murder-and-Mayhem-Interspersed-With-Slapstick-Comedy.
Don’t forget to thank your Grade 9 English teacher Ms. Huffman, whose passion for grammar and just plain ferocity pushed you to write more and write better. Also, thank your mother because without her help you would have never passed Ms. Huffman’s Grade 9 English class. Plus, your mother’s your biggest fan and the best mother in the world.
When you look in your husband’s eyes, remember that there was a time when you thought he wouldn’t still be here with you. Be grateful he is, even when he routinely dumps five pairs of footwear and at least three backpacks in the front entrance almost every day. Don’t even get me started about what his side of the bedroom looks like.
He’s a wonderful husband and father. It’s always been “family first” for him, and that’s what you love about him. The fact that he’s so loyal to the nutballs you’re related to and the wonderful weirdos that are your friends is a huge plus too.
When you look at your 15-year-old and 13-year-old daughters and see them pursuing their talents, hanging out with their friends and rolling their eyes at you, don’t forget you were their age once and what a difficult and scary time that was for you too. Also, spend time with your teen girls. They may act like they don’t want you around, but they really do.
Don’t forget to follow your own advice; it has seen you through some tough times. In particular, don’t eat too many Doritos because that will still make you sick. Things don’t change that much.
Your 45-year-old self looks great. Quit obsessing about that. Sure, the crow’s feet are heading into trench-land and it’s getting harder and harder to hold your stomach in, but you can thank your past self for not smoking and fitting in some exercise from time to time.
Look closely at the faces of people you love, they may not be here even five years from now. You may not be here five years now. Everything falls apart, particularly that threadbare La Flirt nighshirt your mom bought you for Christmas in 1988. I’m still wearing it now, but I don’t think you can any more.
It has been a hell of a run so far and the present me wouldn’t change a thing. I hope you don’t feel you need to either.
Dear past self 2000,
If you only knew, you’d run screaming for the hills right about now and I wouldn’t blame you. You’re going to lose people you love, come close to losing your husband and live in a house that was surely the inspiration for Amityville Horror.
But you know what? You’re going to have two healthy, beautiful daughters. Yeah, I know you thought you might have fertility troubles and are considering following up with a specialist, but don’t bother. Truly.
You’re going to look into the giant blue eyes of your first born and shortly after thinking, “Thank God that part’s over,” you’re not going to sleep for four years. Less than two years after her birth, you’re going to deliver your second girl and if you thought you knew what colick was, well I have a surprise for you.
You’ll tell yourself that your new motto is Sleep Is For Sissies, but if someone so much as talks about a wonderful nap they’ve had it’s going to take all your willpower not to run them over and over in your minivan. Yes, I said minivan.
You and your husband will sell the LandCruiser and buy a minivan. Yes. That was a mistake.
You know Susan, that whackjob you met at playgroup who dropped your baby and keeps trying to be friends with you? Go ahead and be her friend. You won’t regret it. Plus, she’s relentless and she’ll keep ambushing you until you do. A whole network of people will open up to you through Susan, and you’re going to need help.
One day you’re going to get a phone call from your mother, telling you that your Aunt Kathy (her sister) was killed in a highway accident on her way to visit her palliative care patient. From that point on, every time you see purple lupins you will cry, but every time you laugh you’ll hear her laugh with you in your head.
Eventually, your children will sleep through the night and you will too.
One evening when the kids are in bed, your husband will walk slowly down the stairs, white-faced and clutching his chest. You’ll call 911, call Susan for backup, jump into your minivan and follow the ambulance taking your husband to the Emergency Department.
You’ll stop sleeping through the night again. For a while.
The words “Heart Failure” will scare the crap out of you, but things aren’t always as bad as they seem at first. In another few years, he’ll be pinkish again and able to kick your ass in biking, skiing and running, but you’ll have to nag him constantly not to overdo it.
You’ll sleep again through the night. For a while.
Your husband will get a call one snowy February telling him that his brother was killed in a snow machine accident. And you will drive to the Quebec hospital where they tried and failed to save him. You will worry about the toll it takes on your husband’s health and you’ll worry about his mother and wonder how she can withstand the constant psychic pain that comes with the loss of a child.
You won”t sleep very well for at least six months, but eventually you will sleep again.
You’ll feel that life is unfair and you’ll lose your perspective and you’ll regain it again when you remembered where you lost it–somewhere behind the couch with the dehydrated fish sticks and dessicated vegetables your children hate and hide there.
More importantly, you’ll laugh again. You’ll laugh playing tickle fights with your girls and you’ll laugh with your girlfriends. And sometimes you’ll laugh until you cry and cry until you laugh and realize that what they say about laughter and tears is really true. It surely is.
Buck up and remember what Aunt Kathy said. She said, “No one gets a free pass through life.” She also used to say, “Anyone can have a normal mother.”
Make sure you say this to your girls, so they can remember to say it to their children one day.
You’ll also find that it gets easier and easier to lower your standards. You’ll also find that they’re never quite low enough.
You’ll be blessed and you’ll be swimming through the shit. But remember that all great stories are ultimately tales of survival.
I’m participating in a 31-day blogging challenge called #reverb10. Each post is a response to a writing prompt from a different author. The goal of the exercise is to reflect on 2010 and set goals for 2011. My personal challenge is to respond to each prompt in an hour or less. So far, I’ve blown my deadline each time. But tomorrow is another day.
Today’s prompt is from Jenny Blake:
Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)