You came into my world when I least expected you but I knew right from the start. "This child is going to make a difference. I know it. I can feel it." I was right. You have only just begun to live your life but I marvel at the ways you quietly make your way.
I watch and listen to you when you are in the presence of those younger than you. Your quiet presence, acceptance and gentle manner invites trust. You tread softly and those around you quieten so they can hear you. Your calmness soothes our world.
You are a man of few words and when you speak, the words you have to say are important. You dismiss idle chit chat in favor of silence. You break the silence when you have something to say. You have so much inside of you, I want to hear it all. When you are ready. Only when you are ready.
The way you treat our little cat family is so very telling. Your compassion, your ability to observe and appreciate the non-verbal language of your black, furry friends has developed into conversations about cats that amuse and entertain me as well as fill me with perspective about what you see and how you interpret that information.
I think of the heartbreak we shared as we walked with André through his final days. As a mother, I wanted to protect you from heartache. I saw how much you loved and adored that little black cat. I couldn't bear the thought of ever losing him. But we did. We walked through our grief together. We said good-bye to him together. We celebrated the memories we had of him together. It was a hard lesson but it was important. We walked through life, love and loss together. And we are still standing, still celebrating and still remembering that time of great love with an open heart. It was a hard lesson but I hope it will help you when you confront loss in the future.
Loving deeply can hurt. I hope you choose to love with all of your heart knowing that fact. Loving deeply, following your heart, spreading joy, putting words and actions to your feelings is life affirming. You get back what you give in life. If you love deeply, you risk a broken heart. Trust me when I say "Every time my heart was broken, it was worth every moment." The only regrets I have are not loving more, putting a voice to my heart and speaking with loving actions when the words evaded me.
Most importantly, remember today is "just another day". Do not feel like you have to take any giant steps forward from here. Your heart will lead the way if you are quiet enough to hear when it speaks to you. No one knows what they want to do "for the rest of their life" at the age of eighteen. Some may know what they want to do next and that is good. Taking the next forward step when it feels like it is the step that you want to take is always the right choice.
Don't worry about the future. It will take care of itself. Do appreciate your "todays" though. "Today" is important in its simplicity. Keep taking one forward step from here. Try to keep going forward but recognize and appreciate that the definition is not as straight forward as it sounds. Sometimes it is one step forward, four steps back. Sometimes it is moving forward then retreating when it feels like it is not the right direction for you. Sometimes forward is even standing still and holding firm when you feel like you are sinking.
Do not define yourself by anyone else's standards but your own. Saying that, please do not be too hard on yourself. Treat yourself with grace, forgiveness, compassion and understanding. Remember these words when the going gets tough. YOU are worth it. You are ALWAYS worth it. I knew this the moment I knew of your existence. And you have proved every word of this to be true.
Simply put (here are the five words that say everything I have to say), "I am proud of you." No matter what. No matter where you go from here. No matter who you do or don't become. I am proud of you for the person you are today and the person you are growing into. Always and forever.
With all my love,
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"If there were one word that could act as a standard of conduct for one's entire life, perhaps it would be 'thoughtfulness.' " ~Confucius