A Letter To My 2013 Self

Dear Me,

This letter comes to you from exactly one year ago. Today is December 29, 2012, and I wonder what you are up to, there on December 29, 2013. Perhaps you’re sitting in this same hotel room I’m in now, reflecting on the year just past and the year that is to come.

What have you accomplished in the last year? You set some pretty lofty goals for 2013. Which of those goals have you accomplished? Which ones did you modify as the year went on, and which ones did you just decide to ditch altogether?

You had a phenomenal running season in 2012, and you were hoping to surpass that in 2013. Did you? Did you beat 2:15 in a half-marathon, and have you broken that elusive one-hour mark in the 10K?

How is the long-term plan to run a marathon in 2015 going? Are you registered for the 2014 Around The Bay 30K? If you’re not, you should get on that soon.

How is work? I hope you have managed to hold onto your job in a time of great uncertainty and many layoffs. Are you making a reasonable supplementary income from your freelance writing?

Here’s a question I feel very weird asking: how is school? I would venture to say that no-one was more surprised than me when you decided to pursue post-graduate studies. By now, you should have completed two courses and you should be preparing for your final exam in a third course. I feel very excited to be embarking on this. A year in, I hope some of that excitement still remains.

And now for a tough question. Have you managed to get a handle on your eating difficulties, or do you still have this intensely uncomfortable relationship with food? You have spent virtually all of your adult life vacillating between eating disorders – it’s about time you sorted this out once and for all. Maybe something in the last year has helped you.

What’s up with the kids? For you, one year in the future from now, George is 10 and James is 8. Did you try the Talkability exercises to get George conversing more? Have you been reading every day with James to help him with his spelling? Did you get them both into swimming lessons like you’ve been wanting to?

And what are your goals for 2014? No matter how good or bad 2013 was to you, I hope you never lose the ability to have hopes and dreams for the future.

Your Younger Self

(Photo credit: Somegeekintn. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)


Goodbye To A Lady

To my beautiful Aunt Ann,

For months, I have been telling myself that I would write you a letter. The Internet never made its way to the charming old farmhouse that has been home to you for your whole life. Since I moved to Canada eleven years ago, we have kept up with each other’s lives through my Mom, the occasional phone call, my two visits home, and the odd piece of snail mail.

When I got married last year, you painted me a picture. A bright, beautiful picture of flowers. It brightens up my mantle and I think of you every time I look at it. And although I sent you a card to say thank you, I promised myself that I would write you a proper letter, full of news and anecdotes. Maybe I would put in some pictures of my boys, the great-nephews who filled you with joy even though you never met them.

Now you are gone, tragically taken from us while the letter in my head remains forever unwritten.

When Mom called in the early hours of this morning to give me the news, I could not believe it. You have always been such a big, influential part of my life, and I cannot help wondering if my world will ever be able to adjust to your absence.

You were, to me, the epitome of a lady. Stylish and elegant, you were utterly beautiful inside and out. The many wonderful qualities about you will never be forgotten: your warmth and kindness, your generosity, your patience, and of course, your second-to-none baking skills.

Memories of you are playing in my head like a slideshow.

…the countless times you helped me prepare for my piano exams, showing me with infinite patience where I was going wrong and applauding what I was doing right.

…the times I walked around your large property with you and your dogs, helping you feed the pigeons.

…the times I played checkers with Granny when she was still alive, while you tried out a sewing experiment at the other end of the table.

…the way I admired the garden that you put so much love and care into.

…the lazy summer days I whiled away on the hammock in your front yard while you happily pruned roses nearby.

…the times I ate the shortbread that only you could make just right, that you dipped into melted chocolate.

…the little “Happy Birthday” music box you had, that you would play over the phone to whoever was celebrating a birthday.

…the time you took me and two of my cousins to the lion park.

…the time you tried to firmly but lovingly talk sense into me when I made a stupid decision that would have far-reaching effects.

…your home renovation escapades that made the rest of the family alternately despair and laugh.

…the way you folded me in your warm, loving embrace when my Dad died, comforting me even while you grieved the loss of one of your best friends.

…the day, shortly after Dad’s funeral, when you and I broke the corkscrew while it was still in the cork and we ended up having to strain the wine, and we agreed that Dad was messing with us.

…your absolute delight when we welcomed my firstborn child into the world the day before your birthday.

At the beginning of this week, I was gripped with inexplicable intense anxiety that wouldn’t go away. For three days I was living with the iron first of dread, and I didn’t know why. Little did I know that my universe was bracing itself for your sudden departure.

It is surreal to think that you left your house expecting to be gone for a short time – just long enough to walk your dogs down the road and back. You probably thought you would return home, have a cup of tea and maybe a sandwich for your lunch, and spend the rest of the day relaxing in your garden with your dogs.

I wonder if you had any sense of what was to come as the car approached, starting off the chain of events that would lead to your death. I hope you went quickly, without feeling any pain.

I love you, and I always have. I am going to miss you more than words can possibly express. And I am grateful that I had the honour of being your niece, that you were such a big part of my life, and that you helped shape me into the person I am today.

I know that you will be worrying about Mom. She is devastated. You were her best friend and she will miss you so much. But we will take care of her. We will make sure she is OK.

Rest in peace, beautiful lady. Someday, I’ll see you on the other side.