Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 9712
Age Group: Adult
Posted: April 30th. 1998
A Letter To My Daughter
I took part in a very powerful "rite of passage" when I was 15 years old. Truth be told, I didn't even realize it at the time. After all, I was 15, in the throes of intense teenage angst over something or another and absorbed in wondering just what this nasty old world was going to throw at me next.
So, I did the one thing that I always did when my life got like this. I headed off into the woods. O.K., it was really a swamp in the middle of the woods, but it was always my special place.
I enjoy the implicit order found in swamps. Beneath the water swim the frogs and tadpoles, turtles and crayfish. On the surface, little 'skimmers' glide on the surface with all the grace of the greatest Olympic figure skater. Birds hop along the banks looking for that one otherwise preoccupied tasty morsel and the bees hum as they flit from creamy white lotus to deep purple iris looking for the magickal ingredient that allows them to bring sweetness into the world.
As I sat on the old tree stump, I began to think. And when I begin to think, I begin to write. That day I wrote a powerful rite of passage ritual that would take another twenty years to come full circle.
Perhaps you might consider this as a rite of passage for your own family. The kids are never going to believe you were really once their age anyway and so this may a real eye opener for them! At the least they will know that you were thinking of them, wanted them, welcomed them into your life.
Sitting on the old tree stump, 15 years old and thinking about life, I wrote a letter to my daughter.
Looking back on that day now, I seem to remember a strange silence fell over the swamp. The air was thick and warm and eerily heavy. And that's when I saw her there...
I saw her clearly within my mind-all dark brown hair and bright green eyes-at about the same age that I was then. She seemed to be looking straight ahead into what would be her future. I recognized her immediately. I knew that this young girl would one day be my daughter.
She had an expectant look upon her face-as if she was waiting for something to happen. And I suddenly wanted to give her some words of advice. And I wanted to do it while I could still remember what it was like to be 15...
So I wrote...
| To My Daughter, |
"I saw you today. Standing there waiting for your future to begin. I want to tell you so much. About my life, about your life, about us. But I don't know what that will be right now. We'll have to write that part together someday."
"I wonder if you will love the same things that I do. The wild places, the animal kindred, the magick of life. I will take you to these places and show you these things and I hope that when you are troubled that you will find a place like this for yourself."
"There is so much to learn from nature. And from within Her cycles of life, death and rebirth, we can learn a lot about ourselves. That is why I come here. I hope that some beautiful summer day that you will find this place, too."
"And perhaps you will also see your own daughter there. And then you will want to tell her how much you promise to care for her and protect her and teach her...how you will always be proud of her when she follows her own heart and that you will promise to stand by her when she needs a hand to hold."
But most of all, you will want to tell her how much that you will love her... I know. Because that is what I want to tell you."
"I love you, daughter..."
As I closed my notebook, the world seemed to shift and the bees once again were humming and the skimmers were dancing their little circle dance upon the water. And then I did what any 15 year old would do. I went home and went about the business of trying to survive my Monday morning math test.
I did survive that math test and many more over the years. I graduated high school, went to college (briefly!), dated and eventually got married. I also continued to write.
When I discovered that I was pregnant, I knew that the baby would be a girl. No doubt in my mind. I had seen her. I didn't even pick out a boy name. I also knew that this would be my only child. That was okay, too. Somewhere we had made a promise-her and I-that this was how it would be.
The first time that the nurses brought my daughter, Skye, to me, I found myself looking for...something.
I counted toes and fingers (We mothers all do this...). I looked at the color of her wispy hair under the wee sack bonnet. But there was something else still..."
She was lying on her stomach along the length of my own when Skye did that "something." She pushed upwards with her two little stick arms, raised her head and looked me straight in the eyes...An electric thrill rippled through my entire body. We were together again.
I'm not sure that anyone ever believed me when I told them the story. Newborns simply do NOT do push-ups while lying on their mother's stomach and they most certainly do not focus their eyes on anything yet...But that is indeed what happened. A promise had been kept...
The years passed and Skye grew to be beautiful, witty and strong. We went for long walks in the woods and she helped me to harvest wild herbs. We talked about anything and everything-more like lifelong friends than like mother and daughter. In fact, folks often thought that we were sisters. Perhaps once upon another lifetime, we were.
And on Skye's 15th birthday, I gave her the letter that I had written for her more than twenty years before while sitting on an old tree stump in a swamp listening to bees.
I don't know if it helped her to survive being 15 with teenage angst over something or another or wondering what the nasty old world would throw at her next. I don't know if she still has it tucked away somewhere. I don't know if she even remembers the letter.
But from that day in the swamp to the day of her birth through the day of her 15th birthday and up to this very minute, she has always known this one thing...
"I love you, daughter".
Postscript: On December 27, 1999, Skye was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She underwent surgery on January 3, 2000 and the lab results show that she has a mid grade mixed glioma (grade III anaplastic oligoastrocytoma), a malignant form of primary brain cancer. There is no cure.
Brain cancer research is very limited as only about 18, 000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed yearly with this disease. It is considered an 'orphan disease' and one that drug companies view as financially not worth their research investment monies. Research is currently being conducted through clinical trials at various hospitals. These clinical trials focus on radiation and chemotherapy treatments that extend the lifespan of brain cancer victims. Skye optimistically trusts that these trials (which she is a candidate for) will offer her a window of hope while she -and the thousands like her-wait for a cure.
We have introduced this ribbon to raise awareness for those who currently live with the diagnosis of primary brain cancer and to support the brain cancer research that will someday allow them to simply live.
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