I got a letter in the mail earlier this week, unsigned, with a gift that was too much. This is (part of) what it said.
A Christmas gift, from me to you. It doesn’t matter who I am, what is important is that you know who you are. How amazing, how inspiring, how perfectly imperfect. You work hard, you sacrifice, you are a good mom, you are a talented writer, you are brave and unique and beautiful, and you are loved.
I started crying right away, and really, I haven’t stopped crying since. I went to the Fox Run Mall the other night (this is not a place for depressed people, for real) and for some reason the Christmas music and shoppers and food-getters just overwhelmed me, and it took all of my strength to sit down in the food court for a few minutes instead of laying on the floor. (the floor is a comforting place). Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I did. Do you guys ever do that? Wonder to yourself some completely insane thing – like, what if I laid down in the middle of the food court? What would happen? Would people just walk by – how long would it take for someone to call mall security? Or would the guy I had a crush on in high school end up standing over me with his wife, me with my mismatched winter clothes and untied boots – a shopping cart away from looking like a homeless woman, him looking as beautiful as he did when we were 16, maybe with kids? Probably they would be beautiful too.
What’s annoying about this period of time – of feeling a little lost – is that I’m fine. I am fine. There have been times in my post-Anna life where we were unsure if she was going to be okay, I have been in spaces where I didn’t know if I would have a job, where I didn’t know where the two of us would live, where the bottom dropped out so quickly it felt like I was a cartoon character realizing the cliff was no longer underneath us, scrambling to use the air under our feet to propel us back to land. But there were action items – it was hard to spend time laying on the floor of the Fox Run Mall because there was just no time to. Too much to do – doctors to see, bills to pay, moving to be done, forms to fill out. Maybe that’s all of it – it’s all caught up to me, everything up to this moment has landed here at 40, at my doorstep, with no obstacles in the way for me to grab onto, other than the bottle of wine in the cupboard. One of my friends talks about how she is fine in the moments of chaos, and then when it’s all gone, she drops. Maybe that’s what’s happening. I’m dropping much later than is logical to drop.
What’s also true though, is that I got a letter with a gift that was too much. I’ve spent the week trying to figure out who would do something like this for me – give me this kind of gift with this kind of letter, and I thought about the last few months of feeling pretty low, and all the love I’ve gotten as a result. All the people in my circle that have hugged me longer than they normally do, sent me cake, texts with love or inspiring messages, forgiven me for escaping events when no one was looking, or forgiven me for not showing up at all, allowed me space to lay on the floor. The people that have listened to me say the same thing over and over again and kept listening, who offered to be my first line of defense, and I realized I have so many good people that would give me a letter and a gift that was too much.
Have you guys seen Inside Out? I think it remains #1 on the movies I was forced to see because of Anna – first, because when I brought Anna and her friends to the movies to see it, I was standing outside the theatre, my group of girls having just shuffled in in front of me, and a dad I’d never met walked up to me, a little girl in tow, who I believe was a year younger than Anna in school. I recognized her, Anna was in the after-school program with her and they knew each other, but I’d never met him or the girls’ mother. Or her for that matter, officially. He looked at me and said, “Inside Out?” and I was like – “Yes, I think so,” y’know – thinking he was just asking me if the movie was playing? And then he looked at his daughter and said, “Okay I’ll see you in a few hours,” and then looked at me and said “Thanks so much, I’ll just be running some errands,” and ran off. Like – actually ran. It was like a sitcom. I was left with a smiling little third grader looking up at me while I called after her dad – the one I’d never met, “Um – sir? Sir? Um – MISTER?” as he grew smaller, continuing to run in the other direction. And then he was gone. Anna and her friends were in line for popcorn, and it’s not like I could leave this little girl outside and since I didn’t even KNOW her parents – well, I shuffled her in and bought her some popcorn. Anna looked at me like I was crazy (which hello I am!) but welcomed her in the circle.
Dads, am I right?
(Sorry Dads. I’m just kidding.)
Anyway – besides that, I love the movie because it is a reminder that you have to feel the feelings. I mean – this is stuff my therapist tells me – to feel the feelings, and I’m always like HOW? Am I doing it right now? Am I feeling the feelings? All the while I just needed a Pixar movie to explain it to me. You don’t have to see the whole movie to understand (well, maybe I did but I’m also the woman you can leave your child with even if you’ve never met me) – that Riley has been trying to mask her depression & sadness over moving, which ultimately leads her to breakdown mode. And when she allows herself to be sad, well – you guys know this. You probably didn’t need Pixar for that.
I didn’t really need Pixar for it either, but when the debate is whether or not to lay on the floor of the Fox Run Mall, I needed that letter. I needed the too-long hugs and the cake and lots and lots of forgiveness.
I needed to feel the feelings and the too-long hugs that came as a result.
So, person in my life that sent me the un-signed letter.
I love you. I know I love you, because you wrote a letter that spoke right to the inside deep-down parts of me. You are selfless, and beautiful and amazing and inspiring and perfectly imperfect. You reminded me of how lucky I am – really – to be in this part of my life. You reminded me that everything is a gift – even depression, because it makes the beautiful parts of life more beautiful. It is incredibly difficult not to know who you are, because I want to hug you too long and give you cake, but please know that your words were the best gift I’ve gotten maybe ever, and somehow the fact that you remain anonymous makes them easier to believe.
I am brave and unique and beautiful and loved and covered in tears.
For you, dear sweet person, all I can give – my undying gratitude, and one of my favorite voices with one of my favorite songs.